Hardening its stand against Pakistan, India suspended cross-border trade across LoC in Jammu and Kashmir while claiming that it was being misused by Pakistan-based elements to smuggle weapons, narcotics and fake currency, the Ministry of Home Affairs said on Thursday.
Hostilities between the nuclear-armed neighbours escalated dramatically late last month after the February 14th Pulwama suicide attack. Trade across the Line of Control (LoC) has not only served as a confidence-building measure but to also to facilitate the local population with exchange of goods of common use. But tensions between India and Pakistan have been running high since the February 14thPulwama suicide attack in occupied Kashmir.
On Thursday, the Indian home ministry claimed that it had been receiving information that “militant groups” were using the cross-border route to send arms, drugs and fake Indian currency.
The home ministry said there were also inputs to indicate the LoC route is likely to be misused to a “much larger extent” to evade higher duties after India withdrew the most favoured nation to Pakistan.
The National Investigation Agency had shown a significant number of firms engaged in the cross-border trade were being operated by people with links to militant groups. However, It did not name anyone.
Usually the trade operates on a barter system, where no money is exchanged. Indian traders export cumin, chilli pepper, cloth, cardamom, bananas, pomegranate, grapes and almonds. Prayer mats, carpets, cloth, oranges, mangos and herbs return from the Pakistani side.
Relations between India and Pakistan have been under strain since Pulwama terror attack in February when 40 jawans of the Central Reserve Police Force were killed on Jammu-Srinagar highway.