‘Militants’ based in Pak involved in LoC trade: Officials

‘Militants’ based in Pak involved in LoC trade: Officials

New Delhi: At least 10 alleged militants, who had crossed over to Pakistan from Kashmir, set up businesses across the border with active aid of the ISI, were involved in funnelling weapons, narcotics, fake currency to Jammu and Kashmir through the recently suspended cross-LoC trade, officials said Wednesday.
These J&K natives are either based in Islamabad and Rawalpindi in Pakistan or Muzaffarabad, they said.
They operate businesses ranging from almonds, dry dates, dry fruits to mangoes as part of the modus operandi to send money to fuel unrest in Jammu and Kashmir on behalf of the Pakistani intelligence agency, the officials said.
“The 10 Pakistan-based militants were involved in funnelling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency into the Valley misusing the recently suspended cross LoC trade routes,” a senior security official said.
Enquiries conducted and record checks have established that these individuals have opened trading firms in Pakistan and were active in LoC trade, the official said.
India last week indefinitely suspended cross-LoC trade at two points along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir alleging that it was being “misused” by elements from across the border to smuggle weapons, narcotics and fake currency.
The LoC trade across Chakan-Da-Bagh and Salamabad was intended as a confidence building measure for the population of Kashmir divided by the Line of Control.
Security officials gave details of the 10 alleged militants and their businesses.
They said Mehrajuddin Bhat, a resident of Tral, had gone to Pakistan to join militancy about a decade ago. He stays in Rawalpindi and had set up ‘Mehrajuddin Traders’ to get involved in the cross-LoC trade.
His brother is a registered LoC trader on the Indian side at the Trade Facilitation Centre (TFC) at Uri, the officials said.
Nazir Ahmed Bhat, a resident of Pampore, had crossed over to Pakistan, stays in Islamabad and runs a business through his firms ‘New Kashmir Traders’ and ‘New Kashmir Firm’.
Basharat Ahmed Bhat and Showkat Ahmad Bhat, residents of Budgam, had crossed over to Pakistan during the 1990s. They both stay in Rawalpindi.
The officials said Basharat runs his business through the ‘Al Nasir Trading Company’, while Showkat’s trading firm is ‘Taha Enterprises’.
Noor Mohammad Ganai, who also hails from Budgam, had crossed over to Pakistan over 20 years ago. He, too, stays in Rawalpindi and has a company ‘Al Noor’.
Khursheed, a resident of Srinagar, had crossed over to Pakistan about eight years ago. He lives in Islamabad and does business through ‘Khursheed and Sons’.
The officials said Imtiyaz Ahmed Khan, who was originally from Budgam, had crossed over to Pakistan about seven years ago. He stays in Muzaffarabad and was involved in the cross LoC trade through ‘MIK Traders’ and ‘Imtiyaz Traders’.
Amir, a resident of Pattan in Baramulla, had crossed over to Pakistan and lives in Rawalpindi and was an active LoC trader, they said.
The official said Aizaz Rehmani, who hails from Srinagar, had crossed over to Pakistan in the 1990s and stays in Muzaffarabad and holds the post of vice chairman of the ‘People’s League’ in PaK.
Aizaz has set up business entities in Muzaffarabad and Islamabad.
Aizaz’s brother-in-law is also involved in cross LoC trade since 2010 and has links with many cross LoC traders who were allegedly “involved in drugs trade and hawala transactions”, the officials said.
Shabbir Illahi, who was originally from Sopore, has been an active member of the Hizbul Mujahideen and has been charge sheeted by the NIA in a case.
He was involved in the cross LoC trade through his firms ‘MN Trading Company’ and ‘Sultan Traders’.
“The channel of LoC trade, meant to facilitate exchange of goods of common use between local populations across the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir, was being exploited to fund illegal and anti-national activities in Jammu and Kashmir,” officials said.
“Money was being transferred to terrorist organisations and anti-India elements by these traders,” the official said.
The government will revisit the issue of resuming the LoC trade after stricter measures and systems are put in place to address these issues.