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California almonds at the heart of illegal LoC trade

April 20, 2019 05:57 AM


California almonds at the heart of illegal LoC trade
Profits from the low-priced Pakistani imports used to fund terror in the Valley, shows NIA probe; LoC trade suspended indefinitely
TWEETS @MumbaiMirror

Hardening its stand against Pakistan, which continues to fund terror activities in the Valley, the Government of India has indefinitely suspended crossborder trade at two points along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir with immediate effect.

According to a top Home Ministry official, who spoke to Mirror on conditions of anonymity, “LoC trade across Chakan-Da-Bagh and Salamabad was being misused by subversive elements to earn profits which were then funnelled to terrorists and separatists in Jammu and Kashmir”. At the heart of this illegal trade is California almonds, known worldwide for their high nutritional value.

NIA discovers modus operandi

The official said that NIA had discovered the modus operandi for dubious hawala transactions for terror financing.

According to this information, the terror sponsors on the Pakistani side identify a suitable Pakistani trading firm and hand over money to be transferred to separatist elements and terrorist organisations on the Indian side. The Pakistani trader then under-invoices the product, in this case California almonds, depending on the money received and sends the consignment to India. Traders in Kashmir sell the almonds at the market price and earn a tidy profit. The extra money is handed over to terrorist organisations and antisocial elements in the Valley, said the official, citing NIA intelligence.

“The NIA has arrested Zahoo Ahmed Watali, president of the LoC Traders’ Association, who was funding terrorists, separatists and subversive elements in Kashmir. The ED has attached his property worth crores. Further investigation is on,” he said.

The official also said that many of these so-called trading organisations in Pakistan are run by people closely associated with banned terrorist outfits, especially Hizbul Mujahideen. Some Indian nationals who crossed over to Pakistan and joined terrorist organisations are also running such trading firms from across the border. These people are carrying out trade with their relatives in Kashmir, the official added.

Apart from smuggling arms and ammunition into the Valley — pistols, grenades, spares and ammunition have been recovered on several occasions — even drugs have come through in crossborder trade. Recently, 66.5 kg of heroine was seized from a Valley-based consignee.

The official elaborated that in the light of such large-scale misuse of the trade route, the Indian government was compelled to suspend the LoC trade. “The government will revisit the issue of resuming the LoC trade after stricter measures and systems are put in place to address these issues,” he said.


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