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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Arms smuggled into Valley through cross-LoC trucks

Driver held with loaded pistol; Police launch series of raids in South Kashmir to break the terror network

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


JAMMU, Feb 28: Following inputs from a Central intelligence agency, Police have arrested a driver, seized from him a loaded pistol and launched a series of raids in South Kashmir after learning that militants have been smuggling in arms and ammunition through the cross-LoC trade trucks from Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir.

Highly placed authoritative sources confirmed to STATE TIMES that Baramulla District Police on Tuesday intercepted a truck on Srinagar-Muzaffarabad highway and took its driver into custody for sustained interrogation. One Chinese pistol with ammunition was recovered from the truck.

A resident of Kulgam area, the driver is believed to have been engaged by a formidable militant organisation for smuggling of arms and ammunition from PoK. Sources said that the detained driver spilled the beans and exposed several of his contacts. His interrogation was still inconclusive. 

Different Police teams swung into action under supervision of DIG North Kashmir, Nitish Kumar, and IGP Kashmir, Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gilani, for arresting the militants and their over-ground workers involved in smuggling of arms and ammunition through cross-LoC trade from Muzzafarabad.

It was not immediately clear how much of arms and ammunition had been already smuggled into the Valley and how many drivers had been engaged by the militant organisation.

Officials are baffled how the network of smugglers has succeeded to carry arms and ammunition as every single item is thoroughly scanned and checked at the Trade Facilitation Centre Salamabad, Uri, before trans-shipment to the trucks of the Kashmiri drivers. It was not immediately clear if transfer of the incharge of TFC last week was in any way linked to smuggling of the arms from across the border.

Interestingly, Police have learned that several of the militants, who were killed in encounters or arrested in the last six months, had travelled to Pakistan on valid Indian Passports rather than crossing the border with the help of conventional infiltration guides.

In 2014 and 2015 cross-LoC trade had been suspended for several weeks following recovery of narcotics from some trucks arriving in from Muzzafarabad.

The barter system of cross-LoC trade between Pakistan and Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir commenced on October 21, 2008, towards the end of a turbulent summer in Jammu and Kashmir during which Kashmiri traders called for a march to Muzzafarabad when some people in Jammu threatened to block supplies to the Valley. Previously, India and Pakistan had inaugurated cross-LoC travel through Uri in valley and Chakan-Da-Bagh in Jammu on April 7, 2005.

Currently trade through Uri (Baramulla) and Chakan-Da-Bagh (Poonch) is being handled four days a week as around 100 trucks are permitted from each side. Volume of the zero-tariff barter trade is being estimated at Rs 2000 crore from Indian side and Rs 1700 crore from Pakistani side in the last 8 years.



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