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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Police fail to trap handlers of cross-LoC arms smuggling

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


JAMMU, March 1: Even after taking into custody the driver and recovering arms and ammunition from his truck, Police in North Kashmir have failed to trap handlers of the cross-LoC arms smuggling.

In its Tuesday issue, STATE TIMES had exclusively reported that Police had arrested a driver of cross-LoC trade and recovered arms and ammunition from his truck that had been smuggled into the Valley from PoK by a militant network.

While a senior Police official was returning from New Delhi, an officer of the rank of additional SP, according to well-placed authoritative sources, made a plan to trap the receivers of the arms and ammunition at a particular spot on Srinagar-Baramulla highway on Tuesday evening. The detained driver of truck No: JK03B-1586, namely Irshad Ahmad Mantoo of Buchpora Kulgam, communicated to the consignees to reach a particular spot to receive the Chinese pistol, some ammunition and two hand grenades, which had been smuggled into the Valley through cross-LoC trade earlier.

Even as the receivers reached close to the spot, they probably got suspicious about the Police surveillance. They diverted their vehicles and sped away in a style that Police got no chance to chase or open fire on them. Sources insist that the handlers or their authorised agents managed to escape successfully. None of the people involved in the networking of arms smuggling could be arrested or trapped in the raids carried out at several places in Kulgam area of South Kashmir.

None of the Police officers agreed to speak in confirmation or contradiction to the reports available with STATE TIMES.

Sources said that one Chinese Pistol with two magazines and 14 rounds of ammunition, four AK magazines with 120 rounds of ammunition and two Chinese hand grenades were recovered from the camouflaged cavity that had been created on the truck for the purpose of concealing the arms and ammunition smuggled in from PoK through cross-LoC trade.

Investigation is underway to find out how much of arms and ammunition had been already smuggled in by a formidable terror network and how many vehicles and drivers were involved in it. Sources said that the detained driver has spilled the beans and identified many of his contacts but Police are still investigating about their antecedents, whereabouts and hideouts. His call details and other means of communication and interaction with the arms smugglers in Kashmir and across the LoC are being scanned in detail.

While the Kashmiri drivers carry goods of the zero-tariff cross-LoC barter trade after crossing the LoC to the Trade Facilitation Centre Chakothi for onward trans-shipment to PoK, the drivers from across the LoC similarly deliver goods at TFC Salamabad, Uri. Goods as well as the drivers and their vehicles are thorough scanned manually and electronically at both TFCs, one controlled by the Pakistani customs authorities and another by the Indian customs and immigration authorities. 

Case FIR No 07/2017 under section 7/25 of Indian Arms Act and section 13 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act has been registered in Police Station Uri and the investigation has been assigned to a special investigation team.



Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Arms smuggled into Valley through cross-LoC trucks

Driver held with loaded pistol; Police launch series of raids in South Kashmir to break the terror network

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


JAMMU, Feb 28: Following inputs from a Central intelligence agency, Police have arrested a driver, seized from him a loaded pistol and launched a series of raids in South Kashmir after learning that militants have been smuggling in arms and ammunition through the cross-LoC trade trucks from Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir.

Highly placed authoritative sources confirmed to STATE TIMES that Baramulla District Police on Tuesday intercepted a truck on Srinagar-Muzaffarabad highway and took its driver into custody for sustained interrogation. One Chinese pistol with ammunition was recovered from the truck.

A resident of Kulgam area, the driver is believed to have been engaged by a formidable militant organisation for smuggling of arms and ammunition from PoK. Sources said that the detained driver spilled the beans and exposed several of his contacts. His interrogation was still inconclusive. 

Different Police teams swung into action under supervision of DIG North Kashmir, Nitish Kumar, and IGP Kashmir, Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gilani, for arresting the militants and their over-ground workers involved in smuggling of arms and ammunition through cross-LoC trade from Muzzafarabad.

It was not immediately clear how much of arms and ammunition had been already smuggled into the Valley and how many drivers had been engaged by the militant organisation.

Officials are baffled how the network of smugglers has succeeded to carry arms and ammunition as every single item is thoroughly scanned and checked at the Trade Facilitation Centre Salamabad, Uri, before trans-shipment to the trucks of the Kashmiri drivers. It was not immediately clear if transfer of the incharge of TFC last week was in any way linked to smuggling of the arms from across the border.

Interestingly, Police have learned that several of the militants, who were killed in encounters or arrested in the last six months, had travelled to Pakistan on valid Indian Passports rather than crossing the border with the help of conventional infiltration guides.

In 2014 and 2015 cross-LoC trade had been suspended for several weeks following recovery of narcotics from some trucks arriving in from Muzzafarabad.

The barter system of cross-LoC trade between Pakistan and Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir commenced on October 21, 2008, towards the end of a turbulent summer in Jammu and Kashmir during which Kashmiri traders called for a march to Muzzafarabad when some people in Jammu threatened to block supplies to the Valley. Previously, India and Pakistan had inaugurated cross-LoC travel through Uri in valley and Chakan-Da-Bagh in Jammu on April 7, 2005.

Currently trade through Uri (Baramulla) and Chakan-Da-Bagh (Poonch) is being handled four days a week as around 100 trucks are permitted from each side. Volume of the zero-tariff barter trade is being estimated at Rs 2000 crore from Indian side and Rs 1700 crore from Pakistani side in the last 8 years.