MUZAFFARABAD: The intra-Kashmir trade suffered another blow on Friday after India alleged that one of the trucks from Azad Jammu and Kashmir had ferried “huge quantity of heroin”.

Fourteen trucks from AJK and 29 trucks from India-held Kashmir had transported different mercantile goods under the barter trade system to the opposite sides through the Chakothi-Uri crossing point earlier in the day.

However, Indian media reported that their police had recovered 25 kilograms of heroin from one of the trucks from AJK, hidden in boxes purportedly containing textile goods. The driver of the truck, identified as Syed Yousuf, was arrested and as a result the trucks on either side were stuck.

Under the standard operating procedure of the trade, the empty trucks are required to return to their respective side by 5pm. However, till the filing of this report at 10.30pm, all 43 trucks were stuck on opposite sides.

Launched in October 2008 as a confidence building measure between India and Pakistan on Kashmir, the intra-Kashmir trade is handled here by the Cross LoC Trade and Travel Authority (Tata) headed by a retired army officer of the rank of a brigadier as its director general.

However, currently the office of DG is vacant and his powers are exercised by his deputy, retired Col Shahid. He could not be contacted for comment on the matter as his mobile phone was switched off.

Interestingly, the civil administration in the Jhelum valley, where the Chakothi-Uri crossing point is situated, was unaware of the incident.

“Honestly speaking we have not been formally informed by any official of Tata about this incident. We have, however, heard from media reports that the trucks have been stuck on opposite sides in the wake of Indian allegation,” the valley’s deputy commissioner, Abdul Hameed Kiani, told Dawn.

It is not the first time such allegation has been made by India.

Previously, at least twice India had alleged that the trucks from AJK brought contraband items. Those trucks are still held up across the LoC and their drivers are undergoing detention.

One of the traders told Dawn that despite these allegations surfacing from time to time, there was no scanner at the Chakothi trade facilitation terminal.

“Trade items are still scanned manually,” he said.

Published in Dawn, July 22nd, 2017