Cross-LoC trade resumes in Kashmir | india | Hindustan Times
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Cross-LoC trade resumes in Kashmir

india Updated: Feb 27, 2014 10:32 IST
Peerzada Ashiq

Two weeks after high-level talks between India and Pakistan succeeded in breaking the stalemate over cross-Line of Control (LoC) trade, trucks carrying goods plied between Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) on Wednesday after 40 days.

"The trade resumed in the morning. It was smooth and hassle free," said Baramulla deputy commissioner Farooq Lone.

The trade resumed around 11.30 am when 22 trucks were given a green signal to cross over the Salamabad or 'Aman Setu' bridge from Kashmir Valley to PoK capital Muzaffarbad. Four trucks also crossed from PoK into the valley.

However, 22 vehicles could not unload goods across the border after reported argument over new security measures put in place there. The trucks were heading back when the reports last came in. However, the trucks that crossed into the Indian side unloaded their goods without any hassle.

The trade came to a complete halt immediately after recovery of over 110 packets of brown sugar from a truck coming from PoK at the Salamabad trade facilitation centre on January 17.

The driver, Mohammad Shafiq Awan, a resident of PoK, has been booked under Sections 8/21 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. Besides the driver, two Kashmiri traders were also booked. They are lodged in Srinagar Central Jail under a judicial remand.

The trade hit a dead-end when 45 drivers from PoK were held back in the valley, while 27 Kashmir-based traders were not allowed to return from Muzaffarabad. Pakistan was demanding release of the arrested driver to resume the trade.

Several rounds of talks between Baramulla deputy commissioner and director general of trans-LoC trade, Brigadier Mohammad Ismail Khan (retd), failed to reach to an agreement.

It was only on February 12 that senior officials of the foreign offices of the two countries reached an agreement on the resumption of trade, which started in 2008 and was touted as one of the biggest confidence building measures (CBM) to create conducive atmosphere between India and Pakistan.

Cross-LoC traders have welcomed the resumption. "This is a welcome step. But we need to put in place a structure so that such issues are addressed effectively and quickly in the future," said Mubeen Shah, president of the J&K Joint Chambers of Commerce and Industries.

Shah, who spoke to HT on phone from New Delhi, said he is meeting the external affairs ministry and Pakistan embassy to raise the issue of traders.

"We advocate full body scanners at all the four trading points in the state," said Shah.

The traders are also demanding expansion of trade from the current 21 items being traded through a barter system with no banking facility in place.