LoC trade deadlock: Protesters demand return of 28 Kashmiri drivers from PaK

Baramulla: As the standoff between India and Pakistan over the issue of smuggling of narcotics through cross-LoC trade continues, the families of 28 Kashmiri truck drivers detained in Pakistan-administered Kashmir (PaK) last week staged protest demonstrations here Saturday demanding release of the detained men.
Last Friday, authorities in PaK detained 28 drivers and their trucks carrying goods from this side to demand release of their truck driver detained by Kashmir police for allegedly carrying narcotics worth Rs 100 crore.
Police had detained driver of the truck Mohammad Shafiq, son of Abdul Aziz Sarar of Muzaffarabad, who was carrying dry fruits marketed by Al-Fajar Trading Company based in Muzaffarabad. The challan of the vehicle had mentioned almonds as the goods being imported from PaK.
While Pakistan has been demanding release of the driver arrested in Uri, the Indian government has made it clear that the law of the land will take its course in respect of the PaK driver and the vehicle detained in connection with the recovery of brown sugar.
Meanwhile, relatives of the 28 drivers detained at Trade Centre Chakoti, Muzaffarabad, assembled at the main town here and staged protests. Chanting slogans, the protesters, including members of Sikh community, were demanding immediate release of the Kashmiri drivers. The protesters blocked Srinagar-Muzaffarabad highway near Uri bus stand.
“One of our drivers from Sikh community is not keeping well. We have learnt that he has been hospitalized there. We’re worried about his safety and safety of other drivers who have been kept in a makeshift tin shed. We want their return at the earliest,” said president of the Truck Owners Association, Baramulla, Abdul Majeed Akhoon.
He said the PaK authorities have, “without any justification,” detained the 28 drivers, and urged the Indo-Pak governments to amicably solve the matter and ensure safe return of the drivers.
“The authorities have made hotline service at the Salamabad trade centre to connect the drivers with their families. However, most families can’t visit the LoC. It’s in the best interest of all if the two governments solve this issue soon,” Akhoon added.