Kashmir traders protesters over unsatisfactory cross-border policy

Srinagar/Chakan da Bagh, Sept.5 (ANI): Traders in the Kashmir Valley took to streets on Thursday over a demand that cross-border trade with Pakistan be more just and less political.

Accusing the Department of Customs of manipulating cross-border trade regulations, they called on the Union Home Ministry to make rules that faciliate duty free trade exchanges between India and Pakistan.

"Traders are suffering. Trade has become redundant. We want the 21 clauses under SOP should not be changed even slightly. There cannot be any unilateral change and even India cannot make a change," said president of Jammu and Kashmir Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mubeen Shah.

Shah said that it was decided by Governments of India and Pakistan in 2008 that 21 items would be traded between the two parts of Kashmir, but now India was manipulating the agreement.

Earlier, the cross border trade came to a standstill at the Chakan Da Bagh border outpost in Poonch district of Jammu province in March this year as one empty and one live bullet was found mixed in the almonds that were being imported by a trader, Abdul Ghani Dewan.

"We are of the view that the goods being supplied to Srinagar and coming from places like Muzaffarabad (POK) or even China and Pakistan should be free of any custom duty, just like goods coming from Jammu are free of custom duty, because I consider that part to be my part because I am representing both the sides," said Shah.

Cross border trade between India and Pakistan has suffered a lot of setback after incidents of ceasefire violation by Pakistan along the LOC in Poonch district of Kashmir and the killings of five Indian soldiers in August this year.

Both countries were involved in an exchange of firings in August.

In January this year, three Pakistani and two Indian soldiers were killed in one of the worst outbreaks of tit-for-tat violence in Kashmir since India and Pakistan agreed to a ceasefire along a de facto border there nearly a decade ago.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since partition in 1947, two of them over the Himalayan region that both claim but rule in part. (ANI)

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