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Modifications in SOP

Cross -LoC trade understanding between India and Pakistan was put into place in 2008. Two points were selected for exchange of trade. Both are in the State of Jammu and Kashmir with Salamabad in Uri sector and Chakan da Bagh in Poonch sector. The cross – LoC trade had a small and restricted beginning and in fact was something like an experiment for the first time. After numerous hiccups, the obstructions would somehow get resolved.
With the passage of time and trusting it a practical confidence building measure, the trade across the LoC continued and both sides showed sustained interest in allowing it to expand. On both sides, the traders went on demanding several facilities to make trading smooth. Not all facilities were accepted but some of these were conceded under mutual agreement. However, the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) remained in place and has to be adhered to. The J&K Government has of late reconsidered the SOP and has come to some conclusion that it needs certain amendments. The primary purpose is to remove the gaps in the existing set-up to check malpractices, improve mechanism regarding verification and registration of traders and above all to address concerns of the security agencies. It has to be noted that Kashmir is faced with militancy related turmoil that is sponsored from across the border and opening the border for trade at these points must take care of security concerns.
The State Government is said to have proposed about 9 suggestions that could become amendment to the SOP. These suggestions were framed after much consideration by the Department of Industries and Commerce. The State Cabinet has given its nod in its recent meeting and entrusted the matter to the Department of Industries. It is expected that the Department of Industries will now take up the matter with the Union Home Ministry for finalization of the new suggestions to change the SOP.
A dispassionate consideration of the suggestions made reveals that these are fairly well thought of and would certainly provide added facilities for running the trade across LoC smoothly. People on both sides are interested that trade between the two parts of the State should continue and nothing should be done to obstruct its progress. Most of the demands of traders on both sides are in line with the promotion of trade between the two parts. We still need to have international banking system put in place at these two points so that money transactions become safe, regular and secure. To stop proxy trading, J&K has decided to propose incorporation of provisions like compulsory establishment of trading unit in the State by the trader who would be required to provide business premises address to be verified along with site plan, employees details and annual accounts etc. In the proposed modifications stress is being laid on incorporation of mechanism to check under-valuation of goods by adopting certain steps for appropriate valuation of the goods being traded under barter system. It has to be reminded that the Police Headquarters J&K vide its communication dated June 7, 2016 brought to the notice of the Government the reports of mismanagement in registration of traders and variations in the balance sheets issued to different traders in violation of SOP leading to security concerns. Thereafter, the Home Department vide its communication dated September 8, 2016 forwarded observations of the J&K CID to the Government for streamlining cross-LoC trade. We hope the Union Home Ministry will give serious thought to these suggestions and take a decision based on ground realities in the interests of our country. What we need to assured is that the cross LoC trade will not be  used as camouflage for carrying on clandestine activities that go in support of terrorists in Kashmir or their slipping into the Valley unauthorized.


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