Smuggling rampant along LAC in Ladakh

The area—Changthang—is located south east of Ladakh and has been a haven for smugglers who carry essential commodities like rice, wheat, vegetables having longer shelf-life, cigarettes and “bidi” and cooking oil.

And in return, the Indian smugglers flood the market with Pashmina shawls, Chinese crockery, toys, electronic items and blankets, say civil and military officials in Ladakh area.
According to these officials, before last year’s Olympics in Beijing, the Chinese had set up two temporary shelters in Dumchele area opposite to India’s Changthang area where traders from both sides assembled and exchanged goods to the tune of several crores of rupees.

Some of the officials also feel that smuggling was being allowed by the Chinese because it was difficult for them to maintain the essential supplies to western Tibet area from the mainland China. As the Tibetan protests grew during the Olympics, the Chinese closed down this facility and sealed the borders thus paving the way for smugglers from both sides to operate in a major way on barter system.

Though the Indo Tibetan Border Police and Army have been trying to clamp down on these smugglers, but they also admit that it is difficult to curb it because of hundreds of mountain passes which are difficult to man.

Some of the officials alleged that a tightened crackdown always saw political intervention by Ladakhis who have been asking the security personnel to allow this trade to carry on as it was a mainstay for many people.

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