After SIMs, Pak trial to smuggle arms, explosives

4 August 2009
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU: Even as there was no let up in smuggling of mobile phones and Pakistan's SIM cards by the truckers and civilians from across the Line of Control (LoC) to Poonch, Pakistan army today appeared to have conducted a trial to smuggle arms and explosives in the trucks by sending iron rods, empty cold drinks, nut and bolts etc in the bags of dal moong during weekly trade on Poonch-Rawlakote route. While three truck operators were detained with mobile telephones, Nokia batteries and SIM cards of Pakistan telecom company U Fone, another truck operator was found smuggling pieces of iron rods, empty cold drink bottles, nut and bolts in six large bags mixed with dal moong. Official sources told the Excelsior that this was for the first time when a truck operator Mohammad Sadiq son of Kalu Khan, a resident of Kotli, PoK, was found carrying six large bags of iron rods, cold drinks, nut and bolts mixed with the bags of dal moong in his truck No. 8087P during frisking of the vehicles after crossing LoC from Chakan-Da-Bagh on Poonch-Rawlakote route. 'It appeared to be a trial by Pakistan army and the militants to check frisking on the Indian side before smuggling arms and explosives', sources pointed out, adding it was highly unlikely that a truck driver could carry iron rods, empty cold drink bottles and nut and bolts by mistake. Intelligence agencies noted that similar kind of material is used in fabricating Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and bombs. 'Pakistan army, or the ISI, and the militants might have conducted a trial to smuggle arms and explosives mixing them with imported goods in the trucks on Poonch-Rawlakote route', they said. A total of four truck operators from PoK including Mohammad Sadiq were today detained by police with the help of Intelligence agencies as they were found indulging in undesirable acts of smuggling along with imported goods. Mohammad Javed son of Khan Mohammad, a resident of Rawlakote and driver of truck No 581 AJK was detained for smuggling two SIM cards of Pakistan's telecom company, U Fone along with two Nokia mobile phones with batteries while Mohammad Irfan son of Abdul Aziz R-o Dheerkot, Bagh, driver of truck No. 835 AJKC and Mohammad Qadir son of Barkat Hussain R-o Hajeera, PoK, driver of truck No 2647 RID were arrested with two Nokia batteries. All drivers when quizzed by police were unable to explain as to why they were carrying iron rods, cold drink bottles and SIM cards etc along with them. Sources said after the seizure of items and obtaining an undertaking, the truck drivers were handed over to Suhail Ahmed, Trade Facilitation Officer (TFO), Hajeera, PoK on a 'supardnama'. As per the agreement between the Governments of India and Pakistan, the truck drivers can't be detained for the night. However, they can be summoned again through proper channel once the charges are authenticated against them. The SIM cards are being sent to Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL), Hyderabad for extraction of data. It may be mentioned that earlier also, a number of SIM cards, mobile telephones and memory cards have been seized from the possession of truck operators and cross-LoC visitors from PoK. Sources said Pakistan army and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militants were trying to facilitate smuggling of Pakistan SIM cards to their commanders through some civilians on this side. The civilians, most likely the porters, were reported to have been asked to mix up with truck operators during off-loading of goods at the Trade Facilitation Centre (TFC), collected SIMs and then hand over them to militants. It may be mentioned here that Pakistan telecom companies have already raised mobile towers very closed to LoC on Pakistan side allegedly at the behest of Pakistan army and ISI to ensure their signals on the Indian side of twin border districts of Poonch and Rajouri to help the militant commanders easily speak to their bosses and ISI officials in Pakistan. Meanwhile, a total of 43 trucks today exchanged sides from Chakan-Da-Bagh cross-LoC point on Poonch-Rawlakote route. While 19 trucks left for PoK from Poonch carrying dry coriander, coconut, kernil, herbs and apple worth Rs 82.30 lakh, 24 trucks reached Poonch from PoK carrying dal moong and kishmish worth Rs 1.16 crore. According to sources, out of 24 truck worth goods imported by the traders of Poonch and Jammu from their counterparts in PoK, 23 trucks were carrying dal moong and only one truck was loaded with kishmish. VP Singh, TFO Poonch and Suhail Ahmed, TFO Hajeera were present at Chakan-Da-Bagh during cross-LoC trade today.