PoK detains 25 J&K drivers, demands release of its own

Authorities in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) Saturday detained 25 Kashmiri drivers along with their trucks carrying goods from this side of Line of Control (LoC) to demand the release of a Pakistani driver who was detained by the Jammu and Kashmir Police on Friday for carrying brown sugar worth more than Rs 100 crore in his truck.

The incident comes a day after a truck coming from PoK was detained at Salamabad trade facilitation centre of Uri in Baramulla district following recovery of 100 kg brown sugar hidden in it. The challan of the vehicle had mentioned almonds as the goods being imported from PoK.

Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Police North Kashmir J P Singh told reporters in Baramulla the PoK authorities have detained 25 drivers along with their trucks. “They have also refused to take back their 29 trucks from our side due to which the cross LoC trade stands suspended,” he said.

Deputy Commissioner Baramulla G A Khawaja said the Pakistani authorities demanded the release of their driver, who was found smuggling brown sugar on Friday in his truck.  “We will convey to the authorities on the other side not to press with their demand as the law will have to be followed. An illegal act has taken place,” he said.

Sources told Deccan Herald that Pakistani trucks that had crossed to this side were waiting at Kaman Post in Uri to get permission to cross back the LoC. “But these trucks were denied permission to enter by the Pakistani Army,” they said.

“Pakistani troops have detained all the Kashmiri truck drivers and demanded the release of their truck driver Mohammad Shafiq, who was arrested by the J&K police on Friday,” they added.

This was the second case where the drugs smuggled from across LoC were seized by the police. On August 2 last year, police had recovered about 10 kg of brown sugar from a truck which was engaged in cross LoC trade.

This is not for the first time that the trucks from either side were kept hostage. Two years back, a similar situation emerged over some administrative issue.

It must be noted that the National investigation Agency (NIA) has already filed charge sheet in Delhi special court against PoK based Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Sallauddin and nine others for shipping funds to militant groups operational in Jammu and Kashmir under the garb of cross LoC trade.

NIA authorities claim there has been an inflow of Rs 80 crore meant for various militant groups in the state since the commencement of the cross LoC trade in 2006 between PoK and Jammu and Kashmir. The NIA even accused the Pakistani truck drivers of sending in weapons and other lethal ammunitions into Jammu and Kashmir under the guise of trading.

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