Cross-LoC trade was taken over by terror outfits: MHA

‘Indians who turned militants in Pak were too involved’

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, Apr 19: The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said today that cross-LoC trade in Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) had virtually been taken over by the banned terrorist organizations especially Hizbul Mujahideen and even some of the Indian nationals, who had crossed over to Pakistan and joined terrorism, had floated trading firms, which were operating under control of the outfits.
The Ministry also said that third parties were manipulating and misusing the cross-LoC trade, which was also being used for smuggling of drugs and pumping fake currency into the Kashmir Valley.
A day after the Central Government suspended cross-LoC trade on both Salamabad-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawlakote routes between Jammu and Kashmir and PoK, the MHA today listed five major reasons for suspension of trade including infiltration of third party goods, channeling funds for terror, clandestine trade of drugs, supply of arms to support terrorists in the Valley and pumping fake currency notes in the State.
“It has been revealed that a significant number of trading concerned engaged in cross-LoC trade are being operated by persons closely associated with banned terrorist organizations, especially Hizbul Mujahideen. Some Indian nationals, who had crossed over to Pakistan and militants organizations have opened trading firms in Pakistan. As a result, many trading firms under the control of militants organizations are doing LoC trade with Indian trading firms, which were operated by their own relatives on the Indian side,” an official statement issued by the Home Ministry said.
Disclosing that the National Investigating Agency (NIA) has decoded the modus operandi of dubious Hawala transactions for terror financing, the Government said the inimical elements on Pakistan side used to identify a suitable Pakistani trading firm and hand over the money that was to be transferred to the anti-national elements and terrorist organizations on the Indian side.
“Pakistani traders had been “under invoicing” the product like California almonds to the extent of money received by them. On receipt of the consignment, traders on the Indian side sell California almonds at the prevailing market price and makes extra and undue profit to the extent of “under invoicing”. Extra money so generated was handed over by the traders to anti-national elements and terrorist organizations in the Valley to fuel anti-India operations,” the official statement said.
It added that while charge sheeting businessman Zahoor Ahmed Watali, who was the president of LoC Traders Association, he was found to be funneling money to terrorists, separatists and subversive elements in the Valley.
The Enforcement Directorate has already attached property worth crores of Watali and further investigations were on, the MHA pointed out.
“The cross-LoC trade across Chakan-Da-Bagh and Salamabad was intended as a Confidence Building Measure (CBM) for the population living in remote areas of Jammu and Kashmir and those putting up across LoC in PoJK and J&K.
However, third parties manipulated the trade and misused it for trading goods being produced from outside the State of Jammu and Kashmir. For example, the almonds produced in California finding their way through LoC trade involving a large transport network spread in many countries,” the MHA said.
It added that the cross-LoC trade was also being used as a regular channel for funneling drugs such as cocaine, brown sugar and heroine into the Kashmir Valley, adversely impacting the youth and converting many into addicts.
In a recent example, 66.5 kg heroine was seized from a Valley-based consignee and it was found that the drugs came through the cross-LoC trade, the MHA statement said.
“The trade was being exploited for periodically smuggling arms and ammunition into the Valley. Numerous seizures have been made of pistols, grenades, spares and ammunition. Recently, a large cache that was concealed in a consignment of bananas was seized from the driver of a cross-LoC vehicle from Kulgam,” the statement said.
Trade across Chakan-Da-Bagh and Salamabad was intended as a Confidence Building Measure for the population living in remote areas of Jammu and Kashmir and living across the LoC in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
However, according to the MHA statement, the third parties manipulated and misused it for trading goods being produced from outside Jammu and Kashmir.
Consignments of fake Indian currency notes have also been seized in the range of Rs 57 lakh, Rs 20 lakh, Rs 15 lakh and Rs 7.5 lakh and over a dozen of people arrested.
“In the light of such large-scale misuse and loopholes being exploited for illegal and anti-national activities, Government of India has been compelled to suspend the LoC trade from today’, the MHA said, adding the Government will revisit the issue of resuming the LoC trade after stricter measures and systems are put in place to address these issues.
The official statement said that new measures are expected to restore the benefit of the cross-LoC trade to local population only, rather than allowing terrorist organizations and unscrupulous traders based far from these trading points to siphon off the benefits and fuel instability in the Valley.