SRINAGAR – Authorities have set up safe zones for fruit dealers in Jammu and Kashmir’s Shopian district to procure and send the produce outside the state following recent attacks in which two traders were killed, officials said on Friday.
Officials in the district administration said eight to nine “safe zones” have been earmarked in Shopian along the main roads in south Kashmir, to facilitate the fruit dealers to procure the fruits from the farmers.
“Following the recent attacks on fruit dealers, the government first identified five areas and designated them as safe zones to facilitate the fruit growers and dealers. Now, we have eight to nine of them,” an official said.
These zones are on the main roads of the district and closer to police, army and paramilitary CRPF establishments, the official said.
“The zones are secure, there are RoPs (road opening parties of security forces) who accompany them along with the forces’ deployment. The fruit dealers and trucks have been pushed into these safer zones as a security measure. The government has been working on this idea for the last couple of days. It is a stop-gap sort of measure we have taken to ensure that there are no continued attacks,” the official said.
Following the attacks, the official said, there were apprehensions that fruit trade would be severely affected, but “that did not happen” and the loading of fruits was going on.
“After these back-to-back attacks, we expected that people will be discouraged and the whole season will get derailed severely. That did not happen. The loading is still going on. The people have brought their produce in smaller vehicles to these secure zones which we have created and they are loading their fruit over there. There has not been a serious exodus of the truckers following the attacks,” the official said.
There were inputs about possible attacks on fruit dealers and as a security measure, the district administration has also asked about 600 truckers to stay put in Poshana area – near Pir Ki Gali on the Mughal Road, the official said.
“They have been halted for two reasons – one is security because there is a possible input about some sort of an attack and secondly, because of traffic management across Poshana as there is an increased incoming traffic,” the official said.
“We do not have an exact number, but around 500 to 600 trucks is our estimate,” the official added.