The Ministry of Home Affairs on Thursday issued an order to suspend trade across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir from Friday. The Centre claimed the trade route was being “misused by Pakistan-based elements for the transportation of illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency”.
The ministry said reports indicated that the irregularities were occurring on a very large scale. “Unscrupulous and anti-national elements are using the route as a conduit for hawala money, drugs and weapons, under the garb of this trade,” the statement said, while adding that trade at Salamabad and Chakkan-da-Bagh in Jammu and Kashmir will be suspended with immediate effect.
The ministry said that a considerable number of trading outfits are being operated by people closely associated with banned terrorist organisations. “It may be recalled that the Line of Control trade is meant to facilitate exchange of goods of common use between local populations across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir,” the statement said. “The trade is allowed through two trade facilitation centres located at Salamabad, Uri, Baramulla, Chakkan-da-Bagh and Poonch. The trade takes place four days a week. The trade is based on a barter system and zero duty basis.”
The National Investigation Agency, the ministry said, has information that many of the individuals involved in trade have crossed over to Pakistan, joined militant organisations and opened trading firms in Pakistan.
The ministry said the Indian government is working on incorporating a stricter regulatory mechanism before it considers reopening the trade route. It claimed that it had received inputs that the misuse of the trade route would increase after the Indian government withdrew the Most Favoured Nation status to Pakistan.