Baramulla: As uncertainty looms large over the Cross-Line of Control (LoC) on Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route, the Valley traders say they have suffered heavy losses due to the repeated roadblocks for the past one month.
“Since the stalemate, we have suffered losses to the tune of Rs 12 crore. It’s due to this uncertainty that most of the traders have given up. When the trade started 700 persons from Valley joined it. As of now, only 50 traders from this side are engaged in the cross LoC. The trade is sinking, and the traders, too,” chairman Uri-Chakoti Trade Union, Mohammad Asif Lone told Kashmir Reader on Thursday.
He said the 650 traders, who gave up, lost millions of rupees in the trade that has been reduced to barter system. He said that frequent hiccups prompted them to look for better business opportunities.
“When the cross-LoC trade started, we had high expectations. However, over these years, we have realized that both sides are not interested to take it further. Every day, new rules are being set,” Lone added.
Another trader, Ashiq Hussain, said that businessmen from this part of Kashmir were associated with the LoC trade only to recover their investments after suffering heavy losses since the trade started.
“Every trader has suffered losses. Our priority remains to recover our invested money. This trade has become so unpredictable. We can’t rule out the trade being stopped by either of the two countries in future,” he added.
On Wednesday, the Cross-LoC trade was suspended, barely a few hours after it resumed after nearly five weeks. All the 22 trucks which had left for Pakistan-administered Kashmir (PaK) had returned in the evening without unloading the goods at Chakoti Trade Centre due to strict checking measures in place. However, four trucks from PaK had arrived ahere and returned after unloading the consignment at the Salamabad TFC.
PaK authorities suspended the cross-LoC trade on January 17 after 114 packets of brown sugar, worth Rs 100 crore, were allegedly recovered from a truck coming from Muzaffarabad and the driver was arrested. The travel on Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road was also suspended.
The PaK side was demanding release of the arrested driver Mohammad Shafiq Awan who is currently detained in Srinagar’s Central Jail.
Although the officials from the two sides agreed to resume travel services after two weeks, the trade remained suspended. To demand the driver’s release, the PaK side detained 27 Kashmiri drivers for over 26 days. However, on February 12, officials from both the sides agreed to allow the stranded drivers to return to their respective destinations ending the standoff.