Cross-LoC Standoff: Judicial Remand Of Pakistani Driver Extended

Cross-LoC Standoff: Judicial Remand Of Pakistani Driver Extended

10 February 2014
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Majid Jahangir

Srinagar: A Sessions Court today extended the judicial remand of detained Pakistani driver Mohammad Shafiq Awan till February 18. Awan was arrested after 114 kg of brown sugar worth Rs 114 crore was seized from his truck on January 17. The cross-LoC trade has remained suspended since the drugs recovery. Pakistan is adamant on the release of the truck driver to break the impasse on the cross-LoC trade and 76 truck drivers, held up on either side, 48 at Salamabad in Uri and 27 in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). A Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the international drug racket said the investigation was incomplete and some accused were absconding. They sought extension of the drivers remand. Awan’s judicial remand ended today. However, he could not be produced before the court in north Kashmir’s Baramulla town due to the ongoing law and order situation in the Valley. He is currently lodged in Srinagar Central Jail. The court, however, contacted the driver over the phone before granting extension in judicial remand. After hearing the plea of the SIT, the court extended his judicial remand till February 18. Besides Awan, two Kashmiri traders, Tariq Ahmed Sheikh from Baramulla and Showkat Habib from Bandipora, are in judicial custody. The main accused in the case, a smuggler from Amritsar, is absconding. The authorities are likely to engage a lawyer to seek bail for Awan in the coming days. After the deadlock in trade, the two sides also suspended the cross-LoC bus service. However, the bus services resumed on February 3 after talks between the two sides. Trans-LoC bus service on schedule Despite restrictions across the Valley in the wake of the death anniversary of Afzal Guru, the cross-LoC bus operated via Uri in Baramulla district on Monday. Thirtyfour passengers crossed over from both sides. The bus from Kashmir carried 20 passengers, included 17 fresh passengers while three from PoK returned home.