Logjam At LoC: Who Owned The Drugs?


KL Report

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Photo by: Bilal Bahadur
Photo by: Bilal Bahadur

As India and Pakistan are holding the truck convoys of PaK and PaK for nearly 10 days now in a worst ever stand-off involving cross-LoC-barter, police are yet to get the real answers about who was end owner of the 114 kilograms of brown sugar. It valued Rs 114 crore in international market and its recovery was key to the arrest of PaK truck driver Mohammad Shafiq Awan and his truck that carried it along with almond kernels.

The investigations into this sensational case may eventually offer interesting details about how this barter is taking place. Chief Minister had once, famously, termed the LoC traders “smugglers”.

People privy of the investigations said the cargo was sent by Muzaffarabad based company al-Fajr to the Bandipore based trader Showkat Habib. This traders has been associated with the barter for nearly a year.

Within minutes after Awaan’s arrest, Showkat Habib was taken into custody. In police arrest, he told sleuths the cargo did not belong to him. He said it definitely was in his name but the actual trader was Baramulla based Tariq Ahmad. He was immediately arrested.

Tariq had summoned a truck from Baramulla to the Slamabad Trade Facilitation Centre (TFC) to evacuate the cargo – apparently a truck load of almond kernels. Police acted quite fast. But watching Awan arrest and his truck seized, he directed the truck to return back. But police acted fast. First, they rounded up Tariq and within a few minutes, they tracked the empty truck and seized it. Driver and conductor – father and son, were detained for questioning.

Entire trade was aware of the fact that both Showkat and Tariq are both forwarding and commission agents. They, like majority of the cross-LoC traders, work for the big traders – importers, sitting in Punjab’s Wagha. They might never accept it publicly. But in this case, they finally have informed the police that the consignment did not belong to them.

Now police have started investigating the big importers in Punjab for whom the consignment was to be received by Tariq and Showkat.

A police official said they are stumbled with a case that may eventually prove an inter-state or, worst, an international drug trafficking racket. Soon after seeing the magnitude of the mess, they are working on two fronts.

Firstly, they are analyzing and studying the call details of the two detained traders and there are lot many calls they have received from Delhi, Punjab and even Dubai.

Secondly, they have deputed teams to Delhi and Punjab to investigate the people who names have somehow appeared during the course of investigations. The case is being probed by an ASP rank officer of the state police.

Thirdly, the police is yet to rule out the possibility of the drug haul having links with insurgency. But they are yet to get any clue, so far. Interestingly, the police had nothing adverse against either of the two traders who are in detention and formally booked under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.

Meanwhile, there is no breakthrough on this front between India and Pakistan. Both the sides have summoned the envoys of other side for reprimands. That is the last thing that has happened between the two sides. All the 48 truckers are quatrained at Slamabad. Last time, they were signed in newspapers were when they were playing in the premises with their adored trucks offering a calm background to the concrete, high altitude pitch on the banks of Jhelum.


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