New Delhi: Over a dozen firms engaged in cross-LoC (Line of Control) trade since October 2008 are under the National Investigation Agency (NIA) scanner as part of its probe against pro-freedom leaders allegedly receiving funding by Pakistan-based organisations to stoke unrest in the Kashmir Valley.
Top NIA sources told IANS that “dubious transactions” of several traders, whose names have been withheld considering the gravity of the case, raised suspicions about their close connections with Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant organisations.
NIA investigators also found inputs regarding channelling of money to Kashmiri pro-freedom leaders through these “suspected” traders. The firms run by these traders are engaged in barter trade with some Pakistan-based individuals or companies and were found to be under-invoicing the import of goods, like leather articles, dry fruits — especially dates and California almonds (badam giri) — surgical instruments, zinc and oil seeds.
The NIA suspects that “crores of rupees” had been handed over to pro-freedom leaders by the LeT, HM and Pakistan’s spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) through these traders and other sources for fuelling the prolonged unrest in the Valley last year after the killing of HM commander Burhan Wani on July 8.
The agency has seized several bank accounts and ledgers of these traders who are active in the cross-border trade with Pakistan-administered Kashmir that was allowed in October 2008 as a major confidence-building measure between India and Pakistan.
The NIA has alleged that since the cross-LoC trade began, some businessmen “under- or over-invoiced” their bills, and the difference in payment was later used for promoting subversive activities in the Valley.
The trade is conducted at two points across the LoC — the de facto boundary in Kashmir between India and Pakistan: Chakan-da-bagh-Rawalakote route in Jammu and Salamabad-Chokoti in Kashmir. (Agencies)