MIRPUR (AJK)
The Indian Ministry of Home Affairs reviewed measures for easing trade and travel restrictions on Chakan-Da-Bagh and Salamabad routes of the Line of Control, and approved the installation of full-body scanners at the two LoC points to check smuggling of non-permitted goods.
The ministry is expected to take decision shortly on opening cross-LoC travel for the Jammu and Kashmir people living in AJK and IOK, says a report reaching here Saturday night.
The report revealed that Indian Union Home Secretary LC Goyal is on three-day visit to Indian-held Kashmir along with Rajat Punhani, the joint secretary and in-charge of Jammu and Kashmir affairs, and HK Makwaha, in-charge border management, didn’t visit Chakan-Da-Bagh but reviewed measures for easing trade and travel restrictions.  Civil and police administration officiers including Chief Secretary Muhammad Iqbal Khandey and Director General of Police K Rajendra among were also present.
Quoting the sources in occupied Srinagar, the report continued that the Indian Home Affairs Ministry has considered the recent report presented by a high-level team of the MHA that visited Chakan-Da-Bagh and Salamabad a few days back to examine feasibility of installation of full body scanners.
The team has given nod to installation of scanners at both the routes. The team comprised Deputy Secretary (Security) MHA (In-charge Jammu and Kashmir) Sulekha, Intelligence Bureau (IB) Deputy Director Technical D Chakroborty, Baba Atomic Research Centre Scientific Officers Kavita V Dikshit and Atomic Energy Regulatory BoardScientific Officer GK Panda.
Since the full body scanners reflect certain harmful rays, the MHA wanted to install them at the places away from civilian habitations. The IHK government has asked district administration of Poonch and Baramulla to identify appropriate locations for installation of scanners.
The Indian Government is also considering the extension of cross-LoC travel facilities on both the routes to the people. Presently, the facility is confined to divided Kashmiri families putting up on two sides of the disintegrated State, the report said
The report continued, “As the issue pertaining to Indian External Affairs Ministry, the matter was expected to be taken up shortly at high level by the two countries,” sources said. They added that some decisions could also be taken to ease restrictions on cross-LoC trade like increasing list of the items, which can be imported and exported by the traders of two sides on the line of control.
More facilities on the agenda included ending barter system of trade and replace it with currency by opening bank branches on either side of the LoC in the state by nationalised banks of the two countries and opening up direct communication links between traders of the two sides, the report said.
Union Home Secretary L C Goyal said in Srinagar that the government of India is keen to strengthen and expand the trans-Line of Control trade. Goyal visited Trade Facilitation Centre Salamabad, Uri in North occupied Kashmir Saturday and chaired a meeting with the officials. He said that he will take various issues related to the trans-LoC trade with his Pakistani counterpart during the future meetings.
The state government has already given a list of 72 more items that are to be traded with Pakistan through the trans-LoC trade. The Indian Home Secretary said that these items will be discussed with Pakistan and assured the officials that New Delhi was keen to strengthen the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) with Pakistan.
The meeting, the report further revealed, discussed various issues pertaining to development of additional infrastructure as well as increasing the number of tradable items and improving communication facilities were. He also discussed construction of cargo hall with the officials. The officials demanded construction of a residential complex for the employees who are round the clock in the trade centre, said the report.
Ishfaq Shaheen, a tans-LoC Kashmiri trader said in Srinagar that they raised the issue of bar laid by the Customs officials on trading of Pakistan made goods. He said that Goyal immediately issued orders to the Customs officials to stop the practice of disallowing any product of Pakistan made. “He told Custom officials that it is a trade between India and Pakistan and trading of Pakistan made goods be allowed”, said Shaheen.
The traders also discussed the problems faced by the drivers who have been arrested on charges of drug trafficking. They demanded that the families of these drivers should be allowed to meet them. The Union Home Secretary also visited the Kaman post and reviewed the facilities there, it said.