December 2016 News

Cross-LoC Trade Used To Pump Money Into Militancy

18 December 2016
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal and Fayaz Bukhari

Jammu: The National Investigating Agency (NIA) today simultaneously conducted raids at Trade Facilitation Centres (TFCs) at Chakan-Da-Bagh in Poonch district and Uri in Baramulla district from where cross-LoC trade takes place in four days of every week after developing specific inputs that some of the traders were misusing barter facility to pump money to fuel militancy in Jammu and Kashmir. NIA team headed by IG Vinod Shukla and SSP BS Negi today conducted raids at Trade Facilitation Centre at Chakan-Da-Bagh in Poonch district, where cross-LoC trade takes place every four days of week (Tuesday to Friday) between traders of two parts of divided State including Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). Official sources told the Excelsior that the NIA teams conducted raids at Chakan-Da-Bagh and Uri simultaneously after registering a First Information Report (FIR) under Regular Case 17 of 2016 in New Delhi following very credible and specific inputs that some of the traders were getting extra goods from PoK and part of the money generated from them was being pumped into the militancy in Jammu and Kashmir. 'This was being done in-league with the terror networks of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), who have their cadre in both parts of the divided States i.e. Jammu and Kashmir and PoK,' sources said. They added that the NIA has seized entire record of 303 firms, dealing in cross-LoC trade on Poonch-Rawlakote route, which would be used to identify the traders, who had misused cross-LoC trade facility and generated funds for the anti-national activities. Entire record of the cross-LoC trade since 2009 has been seized by the NIA team, which was camping at Poonch and was expected to stay in the border district for next three-four days before taking relevant records with it to New Delhi for further investigations. The investigators reportedly have inputs that some fictitious firms have been floated by the traders, whose accounts would be searched tomorrow in the banks. The banks are likely to be approached for bank account statements. The NIA has already recorded the statements of some of the officials dealing with cross-LoC trade and would take statements of more officials and traders in the next couple of days. 'There were reports that some of the traders in Jammu and Kashmir have grown rich manifold with their banking transactions and assets multiplying after they started dealing with cross-LoC trade,' sources said, adding there were very genuine concerns that the trade was misused by some of the traders to pump funds into the militancy. Sources said the modus operandi being looked into the cross-LoC trade at both the centres was that under the barter system, some of the traders exported less quantity of goods but, in return, were given high quantity of good items from PoK traders on the directions of the militants. The part of extra amount generated by the traders on this side of Jammu and Kashmir from additional goods was pumped into militancy while rest was kept by the traders for them as reward for helping militants. Under the barter system, the traders had to import goods of the same amount which they had exported to other side. An NIA team led by Deputy Inspector General (DIG) NIA last evening raided Salamabad Trade Centre in Uri, North Kashmir's Baramulla district and all the officials of Customs, Custodian and Quarantine departments were asked to report in the Trade Centre. The NIA team is collecting data regarding the goods exchanged through the trans-LoC trade from Salamabad Trade Centre for last several years. There are allegations that trans-LoC trade that was started in 2007 as Kashmir specific Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) between India and Pakistan, is being used for funding militancy and separatism in Kashmir. The main allegation is that the traders from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) are over pricing their goods while the traders from Kashmir are under pricing the goods that are being exchanged at the LoC in Uri and Poonch. Since the trade is based on barter system, the balance amount is being used for funding militancy and separatist activities in Kashmir. Government of India had been pursuing that barter system should be replaced by banking facilities for trade so as to prevent the misuse of barter system but Pakistan has so far refused to introduce banking system. Besides this, the trade is also being used for Narcotic trafficking and so far several cases have been registered by police after they recovered drugs from the trucks carrying goods of PoK. The biggest haul was captured from a truck carrying 114 kg of brown sugar worth over Rs 100 crore, along with its authorised trade cargo of dry fruits in January 2014. It was caught by the police at Salamabad Trade Centre during goods checking. Earlier also drugs were recovered from PoK trucks. Besides this, there are allegations that fake currency was being smuggled through the trans-LoC trade and it was being used for funding militancy in Kashmir. The agencies have reports that Hizbul Mujahideen militants are controlling the LoC trade across in PoK and they are using it for funding militancy with the help of officials at Salamabad and Chakan-Da-Bagh.