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Cross LoC trade resumes between India and Pakistan amid simmering tension

Resumption of the trade from Poonch by the government within six days of Pakistan backed terror attack has surprised the people here.

SP Sharma | Jammu |

Despite the mounting tension between India and Pakistan following the worst-ever suicide terror attack in Pulwama that killed 44 CRPF personnel, the cross-LoC trade between India and Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) resumed through Poonch and Uri on Thursday when about 140 Indian trucks, loaded with various items, went to PoK and about 72 trucks from that side came to the India side of the LoC.

Resumption of the trade from Poonch by the government within six days of Pakistan backed terror attack has surprised the people here.

The trade was suspended a day after the suicide terror attack and resumed on Thursday morning when 35 truckloads carrying tomatoes, pineapples, pomegranates, herbs, garlic, grapes and other items were dispatched to PoK from the Chakan-da-Bagh trade point in the Poonch district of Jammu division. Nineteen trucks carrying dry dates, almonds, potatoes and pistachios came to the India side from PoK.

Trade exchange also resumed at Salamabad in the Uri area of Kashmir.

The trade had remained suspended on Tuesday due to a holiday and did not take place on Wednesday because of the palpable tension between the two countries. However, it was suddenly resumed on Thursday morning.

Security agencies had, from time to time, suggested discontinuation of the cross-LoC trade from Poonch and Salamabad in Uri of Kashmir as several incidents of smuggling of explosives and drugs in trucks coming from PoK had come to light. The NIA had, some time ago, recommended suspension of trade but Mehbooba Mufti, who was at that time chief minister with the support of the BJP, did not allow this to happen. She cited the example of Attari border in Amritsar where the trade with Pakistan was never stopped although incidents of smuggling of contraband and arms and ammunition were also detected there.

The cross LoC trade is scheduled for four days a week from Tuesday to Friday, while travel of passengers is scheduled once every week through both the points in Jammu and the Valley.

Trade through Salamabad in North Kashmir had resumed on February 19, just four days after the terror attack, when 35 trucks each crossed over to the other side from both the sides of the LoC. Next day, 35 trucks, carrying potatoes, bananas, pomegranates and handicrafts, were sent to PoK from the Indian side, while hybrid oranges and kinnow came from that side.

Cross-LoC barter trade was started in 2008 as a confidence-building measure between India and Pakistan but it has come under strain several times due to the constant tension between the two countries.