On Friday, 50 trucks from Kashmir and 22 trucks from PaK were stuck up on opposite sides after JK authorities alleged they had recovered suspected contraband items from an orange-laden vehicle.
Authorities in Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK) and J&K arrived at a consensus on resumption of stalled cross-LOC trade with all but one stranded trucks allowed to return to their respective sides late Wednesday night.
“All trucks, except one, which were stuck up here and across the LoC since Friday will return to their respective sides within half an hour,” Brigadier (retired) ImtiazWyne, director general PaK Travel and Trade Authority (TATA) told Greater Kashmir from Chakothi late Wednesday night.
On Friday, 50 trucks from Kashmir and 22 trucks from PaK were stuck up on opposite sides after JK authorities alleged they had recovered suspected contraband items from an orange-laden vehicle from here.
The accused driver Inayat Shah and trader Zahoor Ahmed Malla—in whose name the consignment was booked—were taken into custody.
Authorities from both sides held a meeting on Monday afternoon during which they put forth some proposals but failed to take a spot decision.
Late on Monday evening, PaK police detained Basharat Iqbal, Trade Facilitation Officer (TFO) at Chakothi Terminal, for investigations, though the action was played down as a customary inquiry.
The police also tried to nab a trader Mushtaq Ahmed Mir who had booked the consignment from here, but failed. Instead, in the wee hours of Tuesday, his elderly father, two young brothers and a 10-year old son were picked from Ambore refugee camp “as part of traditional police tactics to pressurise the trader into surrendering himself to the police,” his relatives told Greater Kashmir.
On Tuesday, Wyne submitted an application in Chinari police station for formal inquiry into the incident.
The application was aimed at investigating whether any contraband item had been smuggled from here or not, and whether the laid down procedure (for scanning and certification of trucks to be sent across the LoC) had been followed at Chakothi Terminal.
In the light of the application, the police registered a case against TFO Iqbal, trader Mir and driver Inayat Shah under sections 121-A, 221, 222, 419, 420, 467, 468, 471 of the Penal Code.
On Wednesday, Iqbal was produced before an executive magistrate, who remanded him in police custody for seven days. When asked if arrest of TFO amounts to acknowledgement that drugs have been smuggled from here, Wyne replied: “Things are yet under investigation. Police will look into all aspects to come up to the conclusion. Any comment at this point may misdirect the investigation.”
To another question, he said there has been positive progress on PaK’s request to the JK authorities for a joint investigation.
“Hopefully we will be able to exchange investigations and get the material evidence from JK authorities,” he said.
Asked whether it meant that the JK authorities would prosecute the driver according to their law, he replied in affirmative.
“On our side the case will be pursued according to our law.”
Wyne also claimed that trade would also resume from Thursday.
“Immediately we don’t have any goods laden trucks in our terminal to send across, but several loaded trucks on the other side are waiting for their turn to transport goods to our side,” he said.