A scanner could have prevented suspension of LoC trade, says former supervisor

A scanner could have prevented suspension of LoC trade, says former supervisor

SRINAGAR: Despite repeated directions by the Jammu and Kashmir Government, a full-body truck scanner was never installed at the trading points on the Line of Control (LoC) in Uri and Poonch.
According to a former official who supervised the trade that took place at Chakan-Da-Bagh in Poonch and at Salamabad in Uri, the scanner could have ensured a hassle-free and fool-proof conduct of trade, which has now been suspended by the Government of India in wake of reports that the trade was being “misused” by militant groups operating in Pakistani Kashmir.
The former official said that a full-body truck scanner can efficiently scan everything that comes from across the LoC, and hence ensure that no contraband is smuggled in. The importance of the scanner is being felt acutely now as the trade, which had reached the Rs 7,000 crore mark, has been suspended on fear of being misused by militants. The indefinite suspension has disrupted the trade-based economy that was building up since 2008, when the trade was started as a confidence-building measure by the governments of India and Pakistan.
“Anybody could have easily spotted an item being smuggled, and then initiated action and investigation. The trade could have been saved along with all the benefits it was meant for,” the former official said.
Directions to install a full-body scanner at both the trading points in Uri and Poonch were passed by former chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed in 2015, and again by Governor NN Vohra. They yielded no result. Sources said that the government had even identified the land, but did not formally hand it over for the installation of the scanners.
“The project is still where it was,” the former official said.
The need for the scanners was highlighted when police recovered a cocaine consignment worth Rs 10 crore from a truck in 2013. The former official said that the installation of the scanners was recommended after that by various agencies of the government, including by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), but things continued to remain as they were until the trade was finally suspended altogether.