As the standoff between India and Pakistan authorities over a recent drug haul continued for the fourth day on Tuesday, the Jammu and Kashmir government was waiting for a decision from New Delhi to ensure safe passage of 27 drivers detained by the Pakistan authorities.
Speaking to Hindustan Times, Baramulla district commissioner Ghulam Mohd Khawaja said the district administration had received no information or directions from the Centre so far.
“We have no information regarding what decision is going to be taken. It is between New Delhi and Islamabad now,” said Khawaja.
The stand-off began on Friday when Jammu and Kashmir police arrested a driver from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir after 114 packets of contraband brown sugar worth Rs 100 crore were recovered from his truck. A local trader, who was to receive the consignment, has also been arrested.
Demanding his release, Pakistan authorities had closed the border, trapping Indian drivers in PoK and drivers from that side here. It also led to the suspension of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service on Monday.
The incident has been a nightmare for the families of the drivers as there is no news about their safety so far. “There is no news about the drivers and their families are very worried. Keeping politics aside, it is becoming a human rights problem,” said Hilal Turkey, general secretary of the Salamabad-Chakhoti traders’ association.
Pakistan is claiming “diplomatic immunity” for the truck driver, and demanding that he, the truck and the consignment of brown sugar be released.
While initial investigations said the consignment contained brown sugar, the forensic report is still awaited.
Meanwhile, the 48 Pakistani drivers who had crossed over to the Indian side on Friday continued to be stranded as their country refused to take them back.
“We have made arrangements for the drivers at the Salamabad centre. They are our guests and are being taken care of,” Khawaja said.
“Its unfortunate that their country is refusing to let them come back,” he added.
An official at the Salamabad trade facilitation centre, refusing to be named, said the border continued to remain sealed from the Pakistani side. “I have asked about the well-being of the Indian drivers from my counterparts in Pakistan today. That is all we can do,” he added.
State chief minister Omar Abdullah was not available to comment on the issue.