LoC Trade To Resume From Thursday

LoC Trade To Resume From Thursday

18 February 2014
The Daily Excelsior
Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar: The trans-Line of Control (LoC) trade between India and Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir that remained suspended since January 17 after a large quantity of narcotics was recovered from a PoK truck will resume on Thursday. The resumption of the LoC trade from Thursday was taken in a meeting of the Trade Facilitation Officers (TFOs) of the two countries at Aman Setu on the LoC this afternoon. “Both the sides agreed to resume the trade from February 20 and meeting went ahead in cordial atmosphere”, TFO Salamabad, Shoukat Ahmad Rather told Excelsior. He, however, said that the PoK didn’t raise the issue of release of the arrested driver. The LoC trade was suspended on January 17 when 114 packets of brown sugar were recovered from a PoK truck bearing registration number RIS-102137 at Salamabad TFC. The truck was seized and its driver Mohammad Shafiq Awan son of Abdul Aziz Awan of Shard, Muzaffarabad, PoK was arrested. After the arrest of the driver, the PoK authorities closed the gate at Aman Setu and did not allow 27 Kashmiri drivers to leave. They also refused to allow 48 PoK trucks to leave Salamabad, demanding release of arrested driver. The LoC Trade was also suspended on Poonch-Rawlakote trade route in Jammu. The trade standoff led to suspension of bus services between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad and Poonch and Rawalakote. However, these bus services were later resumed after remaining suspended for two weeks. PoK authorities were demanding handing over of PoK driver, seized truck and brown sugar so that the driver could be prosecuted in PoK. However, Indian authorities refused to release the driver and seized truck and maintained that law will decide the fate of the arrested driver. Later the matter was taken by Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Government of India with Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Government of Pakistan and the drivers from both the sides were let off on February 12. In the meantime, a local court in Baramulla today sent the PoK driver to further police remand till March 4 after the investigation officer of the Jammu and Kashmir Police informed the court that investigation is under process. Senior Superintendent of Police Baramulla, Zubair Ahmad, told Excelsior that court extended police remand of the driver for 15 days as investigation process in the seizure of drugs is going on. Court also directed the Police to provide telephone facility to the PoK driver so that he communicates with his family after he told the court that his family is concerned about him.