Cross-LoC trade stand-off: No breakthrough at India, Pak meet

Cross-LoC trade stand-off: No breakthrough at India, Pak meet

Indian and Pakistani authorities today met at Kaman Post to end the 11-day impasse over the arrest of a driver from across Line of Control trade following recovery of brown sugar valued at Rs 100 crore from his vehicle, but a breakthrough remained elusive.

"A meeting took place at Kaman Post today between officials from our side and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir side. However, the situation continues as it was," Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Shailendra Kumar told PTI.

He said the Indian officials stood their ground that the Pakistani driver would not be released before facing the due course of law.

"Now they have asked for the FIR copy and the FSL report which had authenticated that the contraband was brown sugar," Kumar said.

The Divisional Commissioner said another meeting has been scheduled for January 30 between the two sides.

Over 110 packets of brown sugar were recovered from the Pakistani vehicle at Salamabad trade facilitation centre on January 17. The driver of the vehicle was arrested.

The PoK officials refused to take back 48 other drivers and vehicles from that side and also detained the 27 Indian drivers and their vehicles, demanding the release of the arrested driver.

PoK authorities have since suspended both trade and travel on Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route.

India had summoned Pakistan Acting High Commissioner on Tuesday in connection with the suspension of Srinagar- Muzaffarabad and Rawalakot-Poonch bus services by Pakistan.

Pakistani authorities argue that under standard operating procedures, which guide cross-LoC barter trade, the driver should not have been arrested by Jammu and Kashmir police and instead he should have been handed over to Pakistani authorities.

However, rejecting Pakistan's contention, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson said there was "no modality which exempts any person alleged to be involved in criminal activity from facing the full force of Indian law". 

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