Cross-LoC Traders Pin Hopes On Home Secy’s JK Visit

Cross-LoC Traders Pin Hopes On Home Secy’s JK Visit

15 May 2012
Rising Kashmir
Abid Bashir

Srinagar: Pinning high hopes on the forthcoming visit of Home Secretary R K Singh to the State, the cross-LoC traders have sought banking facility, increase in trading items, change in Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), travel permit and end to barter system. Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir government has ruled out use of dual currency for the trade and forwarded list of demands of traders to Government of India (GoI). Sources said Singh is arriving on a two day visit to the State from May 16. “He is scheduled to meet the traders at crossing points- Salamabad-Chakoti in Kashmir region and Poonch-Chakandabagh in Jammu region to get a first-hand account of the bottlenecks faced by the LoC traders,” they said. Singh’s visit assumes significance following the fact that he will be travelling to Pakistan before Indo-Pak Home Secretary level talks. According to cross LoC traders, the trade between two parts of Kashmir has shrunk remarkably as Indian and Pakistani governments have not taken any measures to boost the trade. “At present, we are sending peppers and receiving almonds and potatoes,” said Pawan Anand, President Poonch-Chakoti LoC Traders Association. “It was good that instead of knocking at the doors of GoI, higher ranking officials are visiting the State to review the cross-LoC trade,” he said. He said if India and Pakistan don’t remove hurdles in cross-LoC trade, there will be no trade in future as the trading items have been reduced to three. Stating that a delegation of Poonch- Chakandabagh traders are scheduled to meet the Home Secretary on May 17, Pawan said, “We need end to barter system. Besides, there should be no limit on the trading items. The SOP for cross-LoC trade has to be changed so that confusion on items to be traded ends.” Joining the chorus, General Secretary Salamabad-Chakoti LoC Traders Association, Hilal Turkey said the LoC traders from Kashmir are schedule to meet Singh on May 17 to discuss problems faced by them. “Our main demand besides setting up banking facilities is that traders should be provided with travel permit. That will help exchange ideas, read market on both sides of LoC and further boost the trade. The permit should be valid for six months”. Meanwhile, Minister for Industries and Commerce Surjeet Singh Salathia said J&K government has already forwarded the list of demands of traders to GoI. “The main thrust is to see an end to barter system and increase the trading items”. He said as far as currency is concerned, “we have proposed conversion of PaK currency into US dollars to Indian currency”. The minister, however, ruled out possibility of having dual currency in Jammu and Kashmir. Sources said the Indian Home Secretary would raise the cross-LoC trade issue with his Pakistani counterpart and some CBMs are expected after India-Pakistan Home Secretary level meeting.