The NIA has launched a probe into the import of California almonds through two trade routes in Jammu and Kashmir from Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) over suspicion that it is facilitating a large-scale transfer of fund from across the border to foment terrorism and separatism in the state.
“Investigation teams of the NIA have conducted searches and seized several incriminating documents, at several places connected with the crime, in Jammu and Kashmir,” the National Investigation Agency said in a statement.
The searches were conducted at the two trade facilitation centres (TFCs) in Salamabad-Uri in Baramulla district and Chakkan-da-Bagh in Poonch district that were set up to facilitate part of the cross-border trade mechanism.
The routes were opened as part of confidence building measures between India and Pakistan and also to boost direct trade between Jammu and Kashmir and the PoK in 2008.
“This is in gross violation of the state policy of prohibition on trade in ‘third-party origin goods’ through this mechanism and information indicated that these funds are being used for fomenting terrorism and separatism in the state of Jammu and Kashmir,” the NIA statement added.
The NIA has registered an FIR in this regard following directions from the Union home ministry due to the gravity of the offence and its bearing on national security. The FIR has been registered under the relevant sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The cross-LoC trade is basically duty-free barter trade. But only those items can be brought in or sent that are produced in either in Jammu and Kashmir or the PoK.
Traders at other points on the India-Pakistan border have cried foul as many items that come from across the LoC are not produced in the PoK and since they are duty-free, these items remain cheaper once they reach other parts of India, hurting their interests.
An NIA team has presented the FIR before the NIA special court in Jammu. The investigation into the case is on.