Cross-LoC Traders Want Meeting With PoK Counterparts

Cross-LoC Traders Want Meeting With PoK Counterparts

16 February 2014
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Majid Jahangir

Srinagar: Cross-LoC traders have sought a meeting with their counterparts from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) to ensure no one misuses the trade link. “We are happy that the standoff has ended amicably. But as traders, we are worried over what happened. We want a meeting of traders from both sides to ensure no one misuses the trade channel, one of the biggest confidence-building measures between India and Pakistan after Partition,” said Hilal Turkey, general secretary of the Salamabad-Chakoti Traders Union. “We also have the responsibility to blacklist the businessman who had concealed contraband drugs in a cross-LoC truck. During this standoff, we lost business over Rs 30 crore,” Turkey said. “It should not be a free for all and those who register for the cross-LoC trade, carried on a barter system, should be investigated,” he said. The driver of the PoK truck carrying the contraband drugs, Mohammad Shafiq Awan, is under judicial remand. Cross-LoC traders have engaged a lawyer for the detained Pakistani driver. Awan’s lawyer has already moved a bail application before the Sessions Court in Baramulla. The Sessions Court has directed the J&K Police to file a report. Awan’s judicial remand ends on February 18 and he is lodged in Central Jail Srinagar. India and Pakistan are yet to decide on dates for resumption of the cross-LoC trade after the exchange of drivers and trucks on February 12. Officials are hopeful trade may start next week. “The date of resumption of trade has not been fixed. But we are hopeful that a meeting would be held between the two sides soon for resumption of the trade,” said custodian of the cross-LoC trade at Salamabad Showkat Ahmad Rather. “By Monday, things will become clear,” Rather said. The trans-LoC trade on the Salamabad-Chakoti axis is conducted four days a week. The trade was stalled on January 17 after 114 kg of brown sugar worth Rs 114 crore was recovered from a truck coming from PoK. After the recovery of drugs, 75 drivers were detained on either side. Trade suspended India and Pakistan yet to decide on dates for resumption of the cross-LoC trade after the exchange of drivers and trucks on February 12. The trans-LoC trade on the Salamabad-Chakoti axis is conducted four days a week. The trade was stalled on January 17 after 114 kg of brown sugar worth Rs 114 crore was recovered from a truck coming from PoK.