The cross-Line of Control (LoC) trade ban, announced by the government last week, was partly fueled by reports from the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) that identified 10 Pakistan-based militants who were allegedly using the trade routes to pump in “illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency” into Kashmir.
“The channel of LoC trade, meant to facilitate exchange of goods of common use between local populations across the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir, was being exploited to fund illegal and anti-national activities in Jammu and Kashmir,” an official said, quoting the reports.
According to intelligence sources, these militants are originally from Jammu and Kashmir, but crossed over to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), where they joined terror outfits.
“Inquiries conducted and record checks have established that these individuals have opened trading firms in Pakistan and are active in LoC trade,” the official said.
Police sources in Kashmir have confirmed that these militants are across the border and are involved in cross-LoC trade.
Explained | LoC trade, in perspective
According to IB sources, the firms owned by these alleged militants were dealing with Indian firms owned by their relatives. “Money was being transferred to terrorist organizations and anti-India elements by these traders,” the official said.
The report has identified the alleged militants as:
Basharat Ahmed Bhat: Originally a resident of Krim Shora in Budgam district, Bhat crossed over to Pakistan and allegedly joined a militant organisation in the 1990s. Presently, he is said to be staying in Rawalpindi and is allegedly running‘’AL Nasir Trading Company’ in Pakistan.
Shabbir Illahi: Illahi hails from Sopore and is allegedly an active member of the Hizbul Mujahideen. He is said to be operating MN Trading Company and Sultan Traders, which are engaged in LoC trade.
Showkat Ahmad Bhat: A resident of Budgam, Bhat allegedly crossed over to Pakistan for arms training during 1990s. He is said to be presently residing in Rawalpindi and running the LoC trade company‘’Taha Enterprises’.
Noor Mohammad Ganai: Hailing from Beerwah in Budgam, Ganai allegedly crossed over to Pakistan for arms training in the 1990s and is presently in Rawalpindi. He has been reportedly been trading across the LoC through his company Al Noor, with the help of his brother Farooq Ahmad Ganai, a resident of Beerwah town in Budgam.
Khurshid: Khurshid hails from Srinagar and had allegedly crossed over to Pakistan in the 1990s. He is presently staying in Islamabad and is reportedly involved in the LoC trade through a company called M/S Khursheed and Sons, Muzaffarabad.
Imtiyaz Ahmed Khan: Budgam resident Khan allegedly crossed over to Pakistan in the 90s and is presently staying in Muzzafarabad. He is said to be active in LoC trading through his companies MIK Traders and M/S Imtiyaz Traders Muzaffarabad.
Amir: Hailing from Pattan in Baramulla district, Amir allegedly crossed over to Pakistan and is presently staying in Rawalpindi.
Sayeed Ajay Ahmed Shah alias Aizaz Rehmani: Originally a resident of Khanyar in Srinagar, Shah allegedly crossed over to Pakistan and is presently staying in Muzaffarabad and holds the post of vice chairman of the‘’People’s League’ in PoK. According to the reports, inquiries have revealed that his brother-in-law Arshad Iqbal Shah alias Ashu is involved in cross-LoC trade since 2010 through a company called M/S MA Trader located at Khwaja Bagh, Baramulla, and is said to have links with many cross-LoC traders allegedly involved in the drug trade and hawala transactions. The official said Arshad Iqbal Shah was arrested by the NIA in 2016 and is presently lodged at District Jail, Baramulla.
Mehrajuddin Bhat: Originally a resident of Tral, he allegedly crossed over to Pakistan and joined a militant organization. Presently, he is staying in Rawalpindi and is said to run a trading company called‘’Mehrajuddin Traders’. His elder brother Abdul Rashid Bhat is reportedly a registered LoC trader at TFC Uri and operates through a company called‘’RBS Trading Firm’.
Nazir Ahmed Bhat: Hailing from Pampore, Bhat allegedly crossed over to Pakistan in the 90s and is involved in the cross-LoC trade through a company called New Kashmir Traders/New Kashmir Firm.
Last week, while announcing the suspension of cross-LoC trade, the Home Ministry had said the move was being taken to stop the misuse of routes for terrorism.
“It has been brought out that a significant number of trading concerns engaged in LoC trade are being operated by persons closely associated with banned terrorist organisations involved in fueling terrorism/separatism.
Investigations have further revealed that some individuals, who have crossed over to Pakistan, and joined militant organisations have opened trading firms in Pakistan. These trading firms are under the control of militant organisations and are engaged in LoC trade,” it said.
As many as 21 products, including red chili, cumin, tamarind, bananas, mango, dry dates and dry fruits are listed for exchange between J&K and PoK in the trade conducted from Tuesday to Friday every week.