The Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which represents various trader organisations, on Friday, demanded a high-level inquiry into the administrative lapses that enabled Pakistan-based elements to misuse cross-LoC trade routes in Jammu and Kashmir.
The development comes a day after the Union Home Ministry decided to “suspend” cross-Line of Control (LoC) trade at Salamabad and Chakkan-da-Bagh, with officials alleging “misuse” of the facility by those linked to terror outfits across the border.
Chamber president Rakesh Gupta, however, said suspending LoC trade without any prior intimation poses a huge risk of financial loss to the traders. Gupta said both the Chamber and LoC Traders Federation have been demanding strict regulations at LoC trade points.
“These include installation of body scanners, banking facilities, policy on registration of LoC traders and appointment of one-man trade authority,” he said. While assuring full cooperation to the government, Gupta demanded early resumption of LoC trade.
An MHA spokesperson said the government has been “receiving reports that the Cross LoC trade routes are being misused by Pakistan-based elements for funnelling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency, etc”.
Stating that a stricter regulatory and enforcement mechanism was being worked out in consultation with various agencies, the MHA order further said, “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 fuelling 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.”
India and Pakistan started the cross-LoC trade in 2008, more as a confidence-building measure. Since then, according to the J&K government, the trade volume had touched Rs 5,000 crore by March 2018.