JAMMU, Mar 2: As National Investigating Agency (NIA) has gathered sensational inputs into militancy funding through cross-LoC trade in Jammu and Kashmir, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, responsible for fair trade between two parts of divided State, has allowed NIA to co-opt Enforcement Directorate into the investigations.
The NIA and Enforcement Directorate have, meanwhile, identified 13 traders, who were dealing with cross-LoC trade on Uri-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawlakote routes and summoned them to New Delhi for sustained interrogations following their involvement in “illegal practices” while carrying out the trade.
Official sources told the Excelsior that after finding glaring irregularities in cross-LoC trade on both routes of Jammu and Kashmir including terror funding, the NIA had sought permission from the Union Home Ministry for co-opting Enforcement Directorate into the investigations. The Home Ministry has given the green signal to the NIA after which a high level team of Enforcement Directorate has joined investigations in the case with the NIA.
After about two month long investigations into the racket, the NIA has identified at least 13 traders, whose dealings with their counterparts in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) were very suspicious and their trade seems to have been carried out for funding terrorist activities in the State, mainly in the Kashmir valley.
All these traders have been summoned to New Delhi jointly by the NIA and Enforcement Directorate for sustained interrogation, sources said, adding their questioning has been necessitated based on the records scrutinized by the investigators and inputs received from the Intelligence agencies.
“The traders have been summoned separately, one by one, to subject them to individual question to garner more clues and establish their involvement in cross-LoC terror funding scam, which might run into several crores,” sources said, adding special teams of NIA and Enforcement Directorate were now engaged in investigations for uncovering the entire racket, which was operating in the State for past few years now.
According to sources, only 13 traders have so far been identified for suspicious transactions on both cross-LoC routes—Poonch-Rawlakote in Jammu region and Uri-Muzaffarabad in Kashmir. However, as investigations into the case were on, the possibility of some more traders, dealing in cross-LoC trades, having funded terrorism or other kind of activities, hasn’t been ruled out.
The traders summoned by the investigators were reported to have received excess number of costlier goods from the businessmen of PoK and pumped part of the money, generated from selling the goods, into the militancy, sources said, adding the amount, thus, generated might run into several crores.
Noting that the cross-LoC trade, which was started in 2006 as Confidence Building Measure (CBM) between two parts of the divided States-J&K and PoK-has turned out to be a boon for terrorism, sources, however, ruled out the NIA recommending to the Union Home Ministry the stopping of the trade. However, it could suggest certain measures to control the trade along both the routes in a manner that it didn’t lead to funding of terror activities.
“This was being done in-league with the terror networks of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), who have their cadre in both parts of the divided States i.e. Jammu and Kashmir and PoK,” sources said.
They added that the NIA has seized entire record of 303 firms, dealing in cross-LoC trade on Poonch-Rawlakote route, which would be used to identify the traders, who had misused cross-LoC trade facility and generated funds for the anti-national activities.
The investigators reportedly have inputs that some fictitious firms have been floated by the traders, whose accounts were being searched by the banks.
“There were reports that some of the traders in Jammu and Kashmir have grown rich manifold with their banking transactions and assets multiplying after they started dealing with cross-LoC trade,” sources said, adding there were very genuine concerns that the trade was misused by some of the traders to pump funds into the militancy.
Sources said the modus operandi being looked into the cross-LoC trade at both the centres was that under the barter system, some of the traders exported less quantity of goods but, in return, were given high quantity of good items from PoK traders on the directions of the militants.
The part of extra amount generated by the traders on this side of Jammu and Kashmir from additional goods was pumped into militancy while rest was kept by the traders for them as reward for helping militants. Under the barter system, the traders had to import goods of the same amount which they had exported to other side.
The NIA had on December 18, 2016 simultaneously conducted raids at Trade Facilitation Centres (TFCs) at Chakan-Da-Bagh in Poonch district and Uri in Baramulla district from where cross-LoC trade takes place in four days of every week after developing specific inputs that some of the traders were misusing barter facility to pump money to fuel militancy in Jammu and Kashmir.
Besides, the trade is also being used for Narcotic trafficking and so far several cases have been registered by police after they recovered drugs from the trucks carrying goods of PoK.
The agencies have reports that Hizbul Mujahideen militants are controlling the LoC trade across in PoK and they are using it for funding militancy with the help of officials at Salamabad and Chakan-Da-Bagh.