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India suspends LoC trade with PoK, says routes were being misused by terror elements

The Ministry of Home Affairs issued an official statement on Thursday, to shut down trade with Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir which will go into effect from Friday. The action has been taken as a counter to the reports of cross-LoC trade routes being misused by Pakistan-based elements for channeling illegal weapons, narcotics, and fake currency, that the government has been receiving several times.

For those who are unaware of, the LoC trade is meant to facilitate the exchange of goods of common use between local populations across the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir. The trade is allowed through two Trade Facilitation Centres which are located at Salamabad and Uri in Baramullah and Chakkan-da-Bagh in Poonch. The trade through these centers takes four days a week. The trade is based on the barter system and zero duty basis.

However, the reports said that this facility was being misused by some influential local businessmen in cohesion with unethical elements to trade in products from third countries. Hence as an action to avert this, the government has suspended the cross-LoC trade at Salamabad and Chakkan-da-Bagh in Jammu and Kashmir.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had registered a case on cross-border LoC trade in regards to terror funding in December 2016. The case, where the main complainant was the Home Ministry itself, is still under investigation, even after a span of nearly two and a half years. In a statement, the Ministry of Home Affairs said, “During ongoing probe of certain cases by NIA, it has been brought out that a significant number of trading concerns engaged in LoC trade, are operated by persons closely associated with banned terror organizations involved in fueling terrorism/separatism.”

The ministry also said, “So, it has been decided to suspend LoC trade at Salamabad and Chakkan-da-Bagh in Jammu and Kashmir. Meanwhile, stricter regulatory and enforcement mechanism is being worked out which will be put into place after consultation with various agencies.”