Press Trust of India

Ban on LoC trade: Govt says 10 militants based in Pak involved in trading

Ban on LoC trade: Govt says 10 militants based in Pak involved in trading
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New Delhi: At least 10 militants, who had crossed over to Pakistan, set up businesses across the border with active aid of the ISI and were involved in funnelling weapons, narcotics, fake currency to militants and funds to separatists in Jammu and Kashmir through the recently suspended cross-LoC trade, officials said Wednesday.
These Jammu and Kashmir natives are either based in Islamabad and Rawalpindi in Pakistan or Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-administered Kashmir (PaK), they said.
“They operate businesses ranging from almonds, dry dates, dry fruits to mangoes as part of the modus operandi to send money to fuel unrest in Jammu and Kashmir on behalf of the Pakistani intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI),” the officials said.
“The 10 Pakistan-based militants were involved in funnelling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency into the Valley misusing the recently suspended cross LoC trade routes,” a senior security official said.
Enquiries conducted and record checks have established that these individuals have opened trading firms in Pakistan and were active in LoC trade, the official said.
India last week indefinitely suspended cross-LoC trade at two points along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir following reports that it was being “misused” by elements from across the border to smuggle weapons, narcotics and fake currency.
The LoC trade across Chakan-Da-Bagh and Salamabad was intended as a confidence building measure for the population living in Jammu and Kashmir and across the Line of Control (LoC) in PaK.
Security officials also gave details of the 10 militants and their businesses which were involved in the cross LoC trade.
They said Mehrajuddin Bhat, a resident of Tral, had gone to Pakistan to join militancy about a decade ago. He stays in Rawalpindi and had set up ‘Mehrajuddin Traders’ to get involved in the cross-LoC trade.
His brother is a registered LoC trader on the Indian side at the Trade Facilitation Centre (TFC) at Uri, the officials said.
Nazir Ahmed Bhat, a resident of Pampore, had crossed over to Pakistan and joined militancy. He stays in Islamabad and runs a business through his firms ‘New Kashmir Traders’ and ‘New Kashmir Firm’.
Basharat Ahmed Bhat and Showkat Ahmad Bhat, residents of Budgam, had crossed over to Pakistan during the 1990s and had joined militancy. They both stay in Rawalpindi.
The officials said Basharat runs his business through the ‘Al Nasir Trading Company’, while Showkat’s trading firm is ‘Taha Enterprises’.
Noor Mohammad Ganai, who also hails from Budgam, had crossed over to Pakistan over 20 years ago and joined militancy. He, too, stays in Rawalpindi and has a company ‘Al Noor’.
Khursheed, a resident of Srinagar, had crossed over to Pakistan and joined militancy about eight years ago.He lives in Islamabad and does business through ‘Khursheed and Sons’.
The officials said Imtiyaz Ahmed Khan, who was originally from Budgam, had crossed over to Pakistan about seven years ago. He stays Muzaffarabad and was involved in the cross LoC trade through ‘MIK Traders’ and ‘Imtiyaz Traders’.
Amir, a resident of Pattan in Baramulla, had crossed over to Pakistan and joined militancy. Currently, he lives in Rawalpindi and was an active LoC trader, they said.
The official said Aizaz Rehmani, who hails from Srinagar, had crossed over to Pakistan in the 1990s and joined militancy. He stays in Muzaffarabad and holds the post of vice chairman of the ‘People’s League’ in PaK.
Aijaz has set up business entities in Muzaffarabad and Islamabad.
Enquiries have revealed that Aizaz’s brother-in-law is also involved in cross LoC trade since 2010 and has links with many cross LoC traders who were allegedly involved in drugs trade and hawala transactions, the officials said.
Shabbir Illahi, who was originally from Sopore, has been an active member of the terror group Hizbul Mujahideen and has been charge sheeted by the NIA in a case.
He was involved in the cross LoC trade through his firms ‘MN Trading Company’ and ‘Sultan Traders’.
The trading firms under the control of the above mentioned militants were doing LoC trade with Indian trading firms which were mostly operated by their own relatives on the Indian side, another official said.
“The channel of LoC trade, meant to facilitate exchange of goods of common use between local populations across the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir, was being exploited to fund illegal and anti-national activities in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Money was being transferred to militant organisations and anti-India elements by these traders,” the official said.
The direct involvement of militants in the cross LoC trade and their contribution to fund terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir was one of the reasons to suspend trade across the LoC.
The government will revisit the issue of resuming the LoC trade after stricter measures and systems are put in place to address these issues.
New measures are expected to restore benefit of LoC trade to local population only, rather than allowing terrorist organisations and unscrupulous traders based far away from these trading points to siphon off benefits and fuel instability in the valley, the official said. (PTI)

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