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Intra-Kashmir trade fails to resume

Updated August 09, 2017

MUZAFFARABAD: Intra-Kashmir trade could not resume on Tuesday, as was decided last week, reportedly due to concerns expressed by a majority of traders and truckers from Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

During a two-hour-long meeting on Aug 3, officials from AJK and India-held Kashmir (IHK) had decided to resume trade suspended since July 21.

The trade — which occurs through the Chakothi-Uri crossing point, some 60 kilometres south of the AJK capital of Muzaffarabad, under a barter system — was suspended after India alleged that a truck carrying goods from Azad Kashmir had brought “a huge quantity of heroin” to IHK.

The consignment was booked from Muzaffarabad by one Anjum Zaman and was meant for Kuloo Suppliers in held Kashmir.

The Indian authorities seized the truck and arrested its driver, Syed Yousuf Shah, a resident of the Charwaya village near Muzaffarabad.

On Tuesday, no consignment of mercantile goods was brought to the Chakothi Trade Facilitation Centre after some traders and truckers threatened to launch protest, an official told Dawn on condition of anonymity.

Representatives of truckers have warned that they would not let the trade resume until the AJK authorities get the truck driver released.

“We will launch strong protest against the resumption of trade and even take to the roads,” Gulzar Shah, a leader of truck drivers, told reporters, adding that the authorities concerned would be responsible in case of any untoward incident.

However, four trucks from India-held Kashmir did arrive at the Chakothi terminal on Tuesday, but were returned without unloading goods.

Retired Col Mohammad Shahid, the director of the AJK Trade and Travel Authority (Tata), said the trucks were returned because the consignment they had brought was “meant for the company that was blacklisted by us in the wake of India’s (recent) allegation of drug trafficking”.

He told Dawn the authority had banned all companies of that trader.

Published in Dawn, August 9th, 2017