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HindustanTimes Thu,24 Apr 2014

Drugs seized at LoC were for Punjab

Shishir Gupta & Toufiq Rashid , Hindustan Times  New Delhi/ Srinagar, February 05, 2014
First Published: 09:51 IST(5/2/2014) | Last Updated: 09:54 IST(5/2/2014)

Investigations into the recent Rs. 100-crore Afghan drugs haul at a Line of Control (LoC) crossing at Salamabad in Kashmir has revealed that 114 kg of “brown sugar” truck shipment was meant for a dealer in Amritsar with the supplier being a former Hizbul Mujahideen extremist based in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

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The Punjab police have been informed by J&K police and efforts are being made to trace out the consignor.

The cross- LoC trade has been stopped since January 17, the day it was detected from a truck carrying almonds from Al Fajr Traders in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir ( PoK) to Tariq Sheikh of Baramulla through trader Shaukat Habib of Bandipore in Kashmir.

While truck driver Mohammed Shafiz Awan is in Baramulla jail, 48 other truckers from PoK are stuck on the Indian side of and 27 Kashmiri truckers on the other. Home ministry sources said Sheikh told his interrogators that the drug belonged to ex-Hizb militant Shahbaz. An original resident of Sopore, Shahbaz had told Sheikh to transfer the brown sugar to Amritsar after getting a call from one “doctor”. However, the drugs were seized before that and now a massive manhunt is on to nab the Indian kingpin.

Punjab has turned into a major hub for Afghan heroin as no less than 731 kg of contraband was seized from the IndoPak border last year and some 62 kg alone in January 2014. The landed heroin is shipped from Punjab to US via Delhi, Mumbai and Colombo.

Kashmir divisional commissioner Shailendra Kumar told HT: “We can’t share the details of the investigation, but a major part of the drugs was for outside the state and a good part for the Valley.”

Sheikh told interrogators that he decided to deal in drugs from Pakistan as he owed money to one Sanjeev Naveen of Khari Baoli wholesale market in old Delhi.

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