Baramulla, The intra-Kashmir trade suspended since July 21 due to a row over alleged drug trafficking resumed from both sides on Thursday amid continuous threats of boycott and protest by relatives of a detained driver and a faction of truckers’ union.
On Thursday, two trucks with mercantile goods arrived from Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) while only one jeep went across the divide from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PaK), according to officials concerned.
Indian authorities seized the truck and arrested its driver, Syed Yousuf Shah, a resident of Muzaffarabad.
Though officials from both sides met on August 3 and decided to resume the barter trade from August 8, it could not happen due to concerns of the majority of traders and truckers from PaK.
On August 8, four trucks had brought goods from J&K but they were returned without unloading because the consignment was meant for the company that was blacklisted by the PaK authorities in the wake of India’s allegation of drug trafficking.
However afterwards, while many trucks brought goods from J&K on the designated days between August 9 and Augst 16, no vehicle ferried goods from PaK to J&K during that period.
Apparently, it was to break that impasse the PaK authorities managed to send a potatoes and onions laden jeep from here on Thursday.
On the other hand, the mercantile goods from J&K that were downloaded at Chakothi terminal from August 9 to Thursday could not be transported to the Pakistani markets due to the reluctance of the truckers amid threats by the relatives of the detained driver.
Following a strict warning by the PaK authorities, these goods were finally loaded on 22 trucks on Thursday for onward transportation to the downstream markets.
However, the authorities did not allow the trucks to leave the terminal on Thursday, in anticipation of a protest by the relatives of the detained driver and some truckers.
Chakothi terminal’s facilitation officer Major (retired) Tahir Kazmi told repoters that these trucks would be moved out on Friday under adequate security cover to ensure that the mercantile goods safely reached their next destinations (in Punjab).
Meanwhile, relatives of the detained driver have once again warned against resumption of trade.
“Unless the release of my father and two other detained drivers is secured, we will not let the trade resume,” said Mohsin Shah, a son of driver Yousuf Shah.
“The trucks will leave Muzaffarabad only on our dead bodies and responsibility of any untoward incident will therefore rest on the shoulders of the (PoK) authorities,” he added.
Sources told KNS that even the truckers’ union was divided on this issue.
One group was said to have announced that it would continue boycott and protest along with the relatives of the detained driver.