M A I N   N E W S

LoC standoff: Drug probe may lead to Punjab, Delhi
Tribune News Service

New Delhi/Srinagar, January 24
India and Pakistan failed to end the deadlock at the Line of Control (LoC) on Day 8, even as both summoned each other’s envoys this week in a worsening diplomatic row triggered by the arrest of a Pakistani trucker allegedly trying to smuggle in a large contraband consignment.

Investigators probing the smuggling network have now brought Punjab and Delhi under the scanner. North Kashmir Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police JP Singh said the investigation “might lead” them to places “outside the state”, including Punjab and Delhi.

“On the basis of leads that we are picking up — and it’s been a very painstaking effort — we have constituted a special investigation team that may be sent to Delhi and Punjab,” the DIG said.

Three persons, including a Pakistani driver and two Kashmiri traders, have been arrested and are being questioned. The DIG said there was “no adverse report” about the two Kashmiri traders before they were arrested. Following the standoff, the tran-LoC trade and travel have been suspended.

The Indian High Commission in Islamabad was in constant touch with the Pakistan Foreign Office. Indian High Commissioner TCA Raghavan has met the Pakistan Foreign Secretary and other senior officials over the past two days.

The DIG said the goods — bartered at Chakoti in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Salamabad in north Kashmir's Baramulla district — were inspected at two locations before being handed over to the traders. “Goods to be imported are first checked and sealed by the other side at Chakoti. When the vehicles arrive at Kaman bridge (on the LoC), a police and Army team check the seal and question the drivers,” the DIG said.

The trucks are then escorted to the Salamabad trading facility where the trading goods are “manually” checked by three agencies - the state police, the security wing of state police and the customs department, the officer said. “It was here (at Salamabad) during the check that the consignment was found,” the DIG said.

Pakistan, which is demanding the return of its arrested driver and the seized contraband, has held 27 Indian drivers hostage at Chakoti while refusing to allow back 48 Pakistani drivers stranded at Salamabad.

The most likely resolution to the standoff seems the return of the driver to Pakistani authorities, who may file a case against him under their own law as its officials have been demanding, while India retains the seized consignment estimated to be worth Rs 114 crore, sources said.





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