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Cross-LoC trade, boot out doubtful traders

Smuggling of narcotics and other substances and goods under the  camouflage of much hyped LoC trade, as there have been various such instances  from the other part of the State under the occupation of Pakistan,  cannot be allowed to be viewed lightly any more.  Not only this “trade route” has been reported to be engaged in Hawala money transactions but undervaluation of goods traded has been routinely resorted to for funding terror and stone pelting activities in Kashmir. In this connexion, taking some concrete action had become paramount and ascendant. To start with, due verification of the antecedents of the traders engaged in this “trade” became the dire need which perhaps, should have taken place much earlier.
The LoC trade , to call a spade a spade, initiated with very positive and friendship generating major step between the trading and other sections of the people of the two parts of the State after decades of their division, has proved to be a political decision rather than dictated by commerce or economics in any way. Even that political decision has proved wasteful, redundant and expendable. That, this trade could not bring about any improvement on the ground situation in Kashmir valley in the hostilities and violence perpetrated by motivated elements getting sustenance from terror camps in the occupied Kashmir and other parts of Pakistan and instead should be used for shoddy proxy misadventures to fuel the indoctrinated and motivated terror related attacks was prejudicial to the interests of the country and could not be put up with or brooked from any angle.
It is surprising that the popular Coalition Government in office until last month and even the earlier ones, could not moot out the possibility of taking some concrete steps in this direction very effectively. It is not that they were not aware of this aspect of the situation or they did not take some measures but either they were half baked, insufficient and ineffective or the proposed action did not travel beyond the official files.  We do not, as such, appear to be in know of any such cogent step having been earlier initiated as   undertaking complete and foolproof verification of all traders engaged in cross- LoC trade.
Governor N N Vohra has recently directed the Industries and Commerce Department to urgently undertake complete verification of all traders who are engaged in cross LoC trade. A time frame of one month has been fixed within which the exercise has to be completed to scrutinize, filter and prune in order to weed out and deregister those “traders” found out with doubtful antecedents. It may be recalled that this cross LoC trade is carried out on Muzaffarabad route in Kashmir and Poonch  Rawalakot route in Jammu.
Under the instructions from the Governor’s office, computerization of records of trade has to be undertaken to find out whether traders mandatorily reconciled their accounts with their counterparts on quarterly basis. This elementary measure of accounting standard would reveal the genuineness of the transactions based on invoices, bills, sales and purchase and requisite vouchers and would also preempt the trick of undervaluation of goods.
Making roster system on-line and making it public on the first day of the month, as stipulated under the directives, would bring in transparency in the matter. Further, installation of CCTVs at both the Trading Centers, that also within 60 days, would further strengthen the move to rid the LoC trade of clandestine business of smuggling of narcotics and psychotropic substances and would put brakes on making Hawala money transactions, both aimed to fund terrorist and subversive activities in Kashmir valley.  The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is required to be reviewed and looked into, to the extent that no trader could transfer his turn to other trader. The Governor, in this connection, has asked   Chief Secretary to ensure necessary amendments in the SOP.

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