Baramulla: The Cross LoC trade through Uri resumed after two weeks on Tuesday when four trucks from Jammu and Kashmir crossed the Kaman bridge into Pakistan Administered Kashmir (PaK). No trucks, from the other side, however, crossed the bridge because of the drivers’ protest.
The trade, however, remained suspended for the second consecutive month through the Poonch-Rawalakote route.
The Cross LoC trade and travel were considered as major confidence building measures between India and Pakistan in the direction of resolution of the Kashmir issue. The trade has recently been caught in a controversy over reports that NIA, which is probing “terror funding” in Kashmir, may recommend its closure.
Officials said that the trucks reached trade facilitation centre (TFC) in Salambad, Uri, Tuesday morning and, after proper scrutiny by SDM Uri, the trucks were allowed to proceed to Kaman bridge to cross over to PaK. They said that the drivers on the other side are still on protest, demanding the release of their colleagues arrested on charges of smuggling drugs.
The SDM, who is the custodian of the TFC, also sealed the customs office as no customs employee reported to work. Official sources said the SDM himself oversaw the trade for the day and allowed the trucks laden with seeds and other spices to cross over to PaK.
Speaking to Kashmir Reader, the SDM, Sagar D Doifode, said “On August 02, we held a meeting at Kaman post with the officials of other side of Kashmir. We decided that trade should be resume without any demand.”
“We sent our four trucks. The restoration of trade on this point had become a challenge, but we done it successfully,” he added.
Sources said that officers from both sides held a meeting at the Kaman bridge on Tuesday, where both sides expressed the desire to conduct trade in a peaceful atmosphere. The officials from PaK informed that the drivers from the other side are still on a protest strike. “However, they assured our officers that they will send their trucks within one or two days,” said the official source.
Trade through Poonch-Rawalakote still suspended
Businessmen are hopeful of the resumption of trade through the Poonch-Rawalakote route. Traders are optimistic of recovering their losses if trade resumed.
General Secretary of the cross LoC traders body, Sardar Krishan Singh, termed the halt in the trade unfortunate. He said that over the years, the trade had become a casualty on several occasions and its frequent halting hits the traders adversely.
“With this barter trade almost amounting to Rs 2.5 crore on average, and the closure for longer durations has caused immense losses to the traders,” he said, adding that many of the traders have piled up debts.
Custodian of the LoC Trade (Poonch), Mohammad Tanveer, told Press Trust of India that closure of the trade has amounted to losses of over Rs 35 crores.
The cross LoC trade through Poonch-Rawalakote route has been suspended since July 11, after heavy shelling from the Pakistani side damaged the Trade Facilitation Centre and police barracks.
Singh also complained that government had introduced new norms and sought bank guarantees from traders to continue the trade. Traders, he said, opposed the move and south the help of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to ease such norms.
“The traders are also worried because we have not been meeting our counter parts regularly to settle pending accounts,” said Singh. “The government had promised us that it would felicitate meetings of traders on zero line regularly, but it has not happened for more than a month.”