Punjab Drug Baron, High Profile People In Kashmir Involved In Drug Trade

9 February 2015
The Daily Excelsior
Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar: The narcotics haul recovered from a Pakistani truck on Friday was meant for a Punjabi drug baron Harjinder Singh alias Happy Singh who is absconding for last several years while Indian and Pakistani officials today met at Aman Setu on Line of Control (LoC) in Uri in North Kashmir's Baramulla district to end the trade standoff post contraband seizure. Sources said that the three arrested persons Zahoor Ahmad Malla alias Raju Trali, Abdul Majid Shalla son of Mohammad Sultan resident of Armpora Baramulla and Mohammad Yusuf Dar son of Mohammad Subhan Dar resident of Dranbal Baramulla have revealed that the consignment was meant for Punjabi drug baron Harjinder Singh alias Happy Singh of Amritsar in Punjab. A police team was sent to Punjab soon after the drug seizure but they were told by Punjab Police that Harjinder Singh is absconding. Singh's name also figured in last year's brown sugar seizure and a police team from Baramulla that went for investigation could not arrest him as he was an absconder last year as well. Sources said that for negotiating the drug consignment, owner of PoK based Mir Traders' brother-in-law was in Baramulla last month in connection with the drug deal. He traveled in Srinagar-Muzaffarbad bus on travel documents and has met Shalla and Dar. They also said that Shalla and Dar had recently gone to Amritsar to meet Singh. Sources said that few people including higher profile ones may be involved in this case and police is collecting all the evidence before proceeding ahead. They said that Happy Singh is being shielded in Punjab. The Trade Facilitation Officer (TFO), Showkat Ahmad Rather told Excelsior that he along with Deputy Commissioner Baramulla, Talat Pervaiz, SSP Baramula Suhail Mir and SDPO Uri this evening held a meeting with Pakistani officials at Aman Setu to discuss the trade standoff. Around 22 trucks that had arrived in Salamabad on Friday and 50 trucks from Salamabad had left for Chakoti in Muzaffarabad carrying various items are stranded on either side of the LoC after recovery of 9 kilomgram narcotics from a Pakistani truck bearing registration number P-9627. The driver was arrested and truck seized leading to a standoff at the LoC. Rather said that the meeting between Indian and Pakistani officials was held in cordial atmosphere. 'We asked them there is no crisis and trade will be resumed from tomorrow if they take their 21 trucks and their drivers back and allow Indian trucks and drivers to cross over. But Pakistani authorities said that they will discuss it with their higher ups', he said. The TFO said that the Pakistani officials wanted sharing of information with them about the drug seizure so that they can also prosecute the people involved in it in Pakistan. 'We asked them to give a written request for information sharing and we will take up the matter with higher officials', he added. Deputy Inspector General of Police, North Kashmir, Gareeb Das told Excelsior that the meeting was held in cordial atmosphere. 'We are hopeful that the crisis will be resolved in next 24 hours', he added. The trade standoff has led to suspension of Karwan-e-Aman bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad. The bus service that runs on every Monday between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad was yesterday suspended due standoff. This is not for the first time that the bus service was suspended. It was suspended last year as well after a similar kind of standoff when police recovered over 100 kilogram of brown sugar from a Pakistani truck. However, it was resumed later after the intervention of the External Affairs Ministries of the two countries. This is not for the first time that there was any stand off on the LoC due to recovery of narcotics. On January 17 last year, Police seized 114 packets of brown sugar from a truck (RIS-2137) driven by Mohammad Shafiq of Sarwar Muzaffarabad in Salamabad Uri. 27 Indian trucks along with their drivers were detained by Pakistan and they didn't allow their own 48 Pakistani trucks and their drivers to return for about three weeks. However, the matter was later resolved by the External Affairs Ministries of both the countries and the trucks and drivers were allowed to cross to their respective countries except the driver from whose truck the brown sugar was recovered. India and Pakistan started cross LoC trade in Jammu and Kashmir from Uri in Kashmir and Chakan-da-Bagh in Jammu in 2006, a year after Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service was started in April 2005 first time after the partition.