New Delhi, April 24: The cross-LoC trade, which India suspended last week, was being used by at least 10 Pakistan-based militants to send weapons, fake currency and narcotics into Jammu and Kashmir with the intent of fuelling terrorism in the state, investigations by the security agencies have found.
The 10 militants are originally from Kashmir valley and had crossed over to Pakistan-controlled Kashmir to join militancy in 1990s, officials said here on Wednesday.
“Enquiries conducted and record checks have established that these individuals have opened trading firms in Pakistan and are active in LoC (Line of Control) trade.
“Money was being transferred to terrorist organisations and anti-India elements by these traders,” an official said.
The cross-LoC trading mechanism was launched in October 2008 as a major confidence-building measure between India and Pakistan.
For the purpose, two places at the LoC – Salamabad and Chakkan-da-Bagh – were identified for exchange of goods of common use between local populations across the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir on the basis of barter system and zero duty.
The trading facility was available for four days a week through the two trade facilitation centres.
On April 18, the Ministry of Home Affairs ordered immediate suspension of the trade with effect from April 19, saying the mechanism was being misused and stricter regulatory regime would be put in place.
Giving details, officials on Wednesday identified the 10 militants who were indulging in the misuse as Basharat Ahmed Bhat, Shabbir Illahi, Showkat Ahmad Bhat, Noor Mohammad Ganai, Khurshid, Imtiyaz Ahmed Khan, Amir, Sayeed Ajaz Ahmed Shah, Mehrajuddin Bhat and Nazir Ahmed Bhat.
According to the officials, Basharat originally hails from Krimshora area of Budgam district in Kashmir and he had crossed over in the 1990s to join militancy. At present, he is staying in Rawalpindi and running the ‘Al Nazir Trading Company’ and is active in the LoC trade.
Shabbir Illahi originally hails from Sopore and is an active member of Hizbul Mujahideen militant outfit, the officials said, adding he is involved in trading through ‘M.N. Trading Company’ and ‘Sultan Traders’.
Showkat Bhat, originally from Budgam, is presently residing in Rawalpindi and running a company in the name of ‘Taha Enterprises’, which is involved in the LoC trade.
Noor Mohammad Ganai is originally from Beerwah area of Budgam and he also crossed over to Pakistan-controlled Kashmir in 1990s for arms training. Currently, he resides in Rawalpindi and has been doing LoC trade through his company ‘Al Noor’ with the help of his brother Farooq Ahmad Ganai who resides in Beerwah.
Khurshid originally hails from Srinagar. At present, he lives in Islamabad and is involved in LoC trade through a company called ‘M/S Khursheed and Sons, Muzaffarabad’.
Imtiyaz Khan, also originally from Budgam district, currently lives in Muzaffarabad. He is active in LoC trading through a company called ‘MIK Traders M/S Imtiyaz Traders Muzaffarabad’.
Amir is an original resident of Pattan in Kashmir and is presently staying in Rawalpindi.
Sayeed Shah alias Aizaz Rehmani originally hails from Khanyar area of Srinagar and is presently staying in Muzaffarabad. Inquiries have revealed that he was the main supplier of goods from Pakistan-controlled Kashmir to his brother-in-law Arshad Iqbal Shah alias Ashu via the cross-LoC trade since 2010 through a company called ‘M/S MA Trader’ located at Khwaja Bagh in Baramulla district, the officials said.
In 2016, Arshad Iqbal Shah was arrested by NIA and is presently in jail in Baramulla.
Mehrajuddin Bhat is originally from Tral in Kashmir and at present, he lives in Rawalpindi and runs a company called ‘Mehrajuddin Traders’, which is involved in cross-LoC trade.
Nazir Bhat, originally from Pampore in Kashmir, is also involved in LoC trade through a company called ‘New Kashmir Traders/New Kashmir Firm’, the officials said.