Srinagar, April 20: A spokesperson of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry today objected to the defamatory campaign against and suspension of the Cross LOC Trade. The issue was discussed in an Emergency Meeting of the Executive Committee. The spokesperson said that it was unfortunate that the Cross LOC Trade which had been introduced as a Trade for Peace and was one of the most important CBM’s agreed to by the top leadership of both the Countries had become a casualty of indifference and apathy.
Over the years, no effective steps were taken to implement various suggestions given by stakeholders. Demands aimed at bringing transparency to the trade including installation of a Full Body Scanner, Close Circuit Television Camera’s (CCTV’s), Banking Facility, Communication Infrastructure, re-verification of traders, regular rotation of officials posted at Trade Facilitation Centres etc have been ignored. The decision of installation of Full Body Scanner has been taken several years ago but has been caught in procedural delays.
In July 2018, the then Hon’ble Governor N. N. Vohra had issued deadlines for the implementation of the above measures but till date no action has been taken resulting in the suspension of the trade itself.
The statements regarding misuse and manipulation of the trade indicate serious flaws in the guidelines of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s). The allegation that businessman Zahoor Ahmed Wattali was the President of LOC Traders Association is also unsubstantiated as per our knowledge. This has allowed the alleged flow of narcotics, fake currency and weapons into the State. In view of the serious nature of the allegations, responsibility needs to be fixed for the glaring lapses.
The order of suspension has been issued without taking into account the difficulties genuine traders would be facing. No opportunity has been given to settle accounts and traders have been left with huge stocks, many of them perishable, which would be of no use. In addition, thousands of persons connected with the trade have been rendered jobless and in debt.