Uncertainty looms over LoC trade resumed after a week

Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar, Feb 12: The trans-Line of Control (LoC) trade between India and Pakistan that was suspended after the seizure of drugs from a Pakistani truck at Salamabad in Uri was resumed today after a week but at Chakoti the family and drivers have blocked the main market demanding PoK driver’s release.
The Trade Facilitation Officer (TFO) trans-LoC trade at Salamabad, Shoukat Ahmad Rather, told Excelsior that 15 trucks laden with fresh fruits crossed LoC this afternoon towards Muzaffarabad. “However, not a single truck arrived at Salamabad TFC”, he added.
Rather said that they have given preference to the fresh fruit as traders were impatient that their fruit could rot if it is not sent on priority basis.
Ashfaq Ahmad, a trader, whose 14 banana trucks were standing at Salamabad for past two weeks said that his one truck crossed the LoC. “It is a good decision by the authorities as they came to our rescue by giving preference to fruit laden trucks”, he said.
Reports said that family members of arrested PoK driver Syed Inayat Hussain Shah and his fellow drivers have blocked the main Chakoti market and have not allowed any truck to enter TFC Chakoti. The bananas that arrived from Salamabad Uri were lying in the TFC till late night when reports last poured in.
The protests and blockade of the road may affect the trans-LoC trade. A trade official said that we will send the trucks tomorrow only after clearance from Pakistani authorities.
The trade standoff between India and Pakistan at Aman Setu ended last night after 50 trucks from Kashmir arrived back in Salamabad TFC and 21 trucks from PoK crossed towards Muzaffarabad. However, the PoK truck driver Syed Inayat Hussain Shah, resident of Kumikote Muzaffarbad who was arrested on Friday is facing trial and his truck bearing registration number P-9627 is also seized.
The trade standoff was resolved after successful meeting that was held two days ago between Indian and Pakistani officials at Aman Setu. Yesterday, Deputy Commissioner Baramulla, Talat Parvez and Director General Trade and Travel Authority, Brigadier (retd.) Imtiyaz Ahmad, had telephonic conversation and the impasse ended.
Indian authorities had assured the Pakistani officials that they will share the investigations with them and will speed up the trial of the arrested drivers.
Over 9 kilogramme of brown sugar recovered from the Pakistani truck on Friday led to week’s standoff at LoC that ended last night. This is not for the first time that drug seizure led to suspension of the trade. 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 and trade was suspended for four weeks. However, the present standoff was resolved in a week.
India and Pakistan had 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.


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