Loc trade suspended as India, Pak relations worsen

The cross LoC trade on the Srinagar-Muzafarabad road was suspended today following the strained relations between India and Pakistan after the escalation of tension along the de-facto border as the troops from both the sides have engaged in heavy firing.

The authorities from this side were trying to ensure that the trade was not suspended, but the officials of the Pakistan Administered Kashmir (PaK) denied entry of vehicles to their side. Some 50 trucks of fresh fruit were halted at the Salamabad trade center, as they were denied clearance from the PaK Authorities.

Early morning the trucks were cleared by the security officials to be plied to the other side of LoC and remained stranded through the day as there was no word from the Pakistani Authorities over allowing the vehicles to the other side.

However, it was only late afternoon at around 4 pm that the traders were informed that the cross-LoC service has been suspended for the day. A top security official said that the tension has mounted along the LoC in Uri sector after Army claimed to have foiled earlier an infiltration bid by militants who had been backed by the Pakistan’s special action force of Border Action Team (BAT). At least eight militants have been killed in the past one week, along the LoC, who were trying to sneak into this side.

“The situation along the LoC remains tense. For the past two weeks there has been constant exchange of heavy mortar fire between the troops from two sides which has created  panic among the residents living near the border,’’ said an official. He said that the Pakistani Army had informed the Authorities in the PaK to suspend the LoC trade and the decision was also conveyed to the officials from this side.

Although some 35 vehicles had been plying on an average between the two sides, the number of vehicles was on a higher side today due to the demand for fresh fruits in PaK. The LoC trade had remained largely unaffected even during the heightened tensions between India and Pakistan last year that followed after the killing of HM militant commander, Burhan Muzafar Wani, in July.

The killing had triggered widespread protests, while there was a frequent violation of the 2003 ceasefire agreement as the troops exchanged constant firing resulting in large scale evacuation of people. India and Pakistani troops have also exchange heavy mortar fire in the Balakote and Mendhar areas of Jammu division recently due to which thousands of people were evacuated to safer places.

President of the Salamabad Trader’s Union, Hilal Turki, said that they fear a loss of over Rs 2-3 crore in case the suspension continues. “We have got the orders for fresh fruit mostly of bananas from the Pakistani side, but none of the vehicles was allowed to the other side of LoC today,’’ he said.

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