LoC Meeting fails to resolve standoff

SRINAGAR: A meeting between officials from two sides of Kashmir failed to break the deadlock on the Line of Control, even as it entered tenth day, Monday. 

A delegation led by Director Industries Kashmir Mohammad Javed Khan talked to delegation from Pakistani controlled part of Kashmir (PCK) led by Director General Trade and Travel Mohammad Ismail Khan for about two hours but the PcK delegation insisted on the release of driver booked for drug smuggling in Uri on January 17, officials said. 

SDM Uri Abdul Aziz Sheikh and Custodian Trade Showkat Ahmad were present in the meeting. 

 “PcK delegation stressed on release of driver and his truck which we refused saying that he has been arrested on charges of carrying over 100 kilograms of brown sugar which was tested and confirmed by forensic science laboratory. We told them that the driver cannot be released unless an action is taken against him warranted under law,” Mohammad Javed Khan said.

The director industries informed that the PcK delegation assured a stern action against the people involved in brown sugar trade connected with the January 17 incident at LoC. “After giving them full information, the PcK delegation sought release of driver assuring a swift action with his help,” he said.

 “The PcK delegation had a positive approach and they were convinced that the issue will be resolved in a legal way. In other words they have accepted the seizure of brown sugar from their truck which they had earlier totally denied. We however, made it clear to them that the driver cannot be handed over to them (PcK) because an FIR has been lodged against him,” he said. 

Khan said that the PcK delegation was briefed about the disclosures made by the arrested driver and all other relevant details. “They said the driver was innocent and did not know who kept the brown sugar in his truck and if he is released they will be able to trace the real culprits. We said that the driver cannot be released but provided all relevant formation about the people he has identified and their location.”

He added that the PcK delegation was also convinced about continuation of talks to resolve the issue on a positive note. “They seemed convinced that the issue cannot be resolved by any other means except to undergo a legal procedure. They finally said that they will report to their authorities about today’s meet and the possibility of taking up the issue at diplomatic levels.”

Asked about the stranded drivers on the two sides of LoC, Khan said that the two sides have agreed to  meet again on Jan 30. “Their approach on handing over our drivers and taking back PcK drivers was irrational as they said that if they take their drivers back, that will minimize the chances of their driver’s release,” Khan informed.

Some 27 truck drivers from different areas of Jammu and Kashmir are stranded in PcK while 48 drivers, besides the one arrested for smuggling, from PcK are stranded on this side since January 17, when authorities at Trade Facilitation Centre Salamabad claimed to recover 114 kg of brown sugar from a PcK truck. 

PcK authorities halted the trade, and refused to all any truck back from either side, unless the detained driver was released and repatriated.  

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