Pakistan has claimed diplomatic immunity for a truck driver who was arrested last week after his vehicle was found to be carrying over 100 kg of narcotics, an official said.
Kashmir Divisional Commissioner Shailender Kumar told reporters here that the authorities at Salamabad trade facilitation centre on the Line of Control (LoC) in north Kashmir's Baramulla district recovered over 100 kg of narcotics from a truck plying from Pakistan purportedly with a load of almonds.
"Superintendent of police Baramulla took a team of forensic experts and the seized items tested positive narcotics. Subsequently, the driver was arrested. The truck was seized along with the narcotics. All other 48 trucks that had come across were allowed to go back, according to the usual routine, Jan 18, when 27 trucks from our side that had gone across with goods were also supposed to return," Kumar said.
"Pakistani authorities neither allowed our 27 trucks to return from their Chakote trade centre, nor did they allow their 48 trucks to cross the Kaman Bridge to enter the territory controlled by them," Kumar said.
Kumar said when the district magistrate of Baramulla met the trade and travel director general of cross LoC trade, Brigadier (retired) Muhammad Ismail Khan, to resolve the impasse, he was surprised to hear the Pakistan official claim that as per the trade pact, these people have diplomatic immunity.
Khan claimed Indian authorities could not arrest them.
"We asked them whether they believed the drivers who came with trade vehicles also had diplomatic immunity," Kumar said.
"We told them that we have arrested two people, one the driver of the truck and the other the local trader who was to receive the narcotics consignment," the divisional commissioner said.
He said Pakistan trade authorities have been told clearly that these people will have to face the process of law, as possession or trade in narcotic items is a serious criminal offence.
He said the state government had raised the matter with the central government, so that the issue could be resolved between New Delhi and Islamabad.
Meanwhile, Pakistan authorities have said the operations of the peace bus between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad would also remain on hold until the cross-LoC trade impasse between the two countries is resolved.