High Court asks custodian to file status report

After some ‘aggrieved’ trans-LoC traders filed a petition regarding lack of infrastructure at the Chakan da Bagh Trade Centre in Poonch district, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court has slapped a notice on the government.

It has directed the custodian of the trade centre to file a status report vis-à-vis infrastructural facilities as per the standard operating procedure (SOP). The case will be heard by the High Court on December 9.The cross-LoC trade started in 2008 when Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was the Chief Minister and led the government in alliance with the Congress.

However, the trade continues to suffer because of inadequate infrastructure. The tradable items have come down to three or four items from a list of 21 items mentioned in the SOP of the Union Home Ministry.During his visit to the Chakan da Bagh Trade Centre in Poonch on November 21, Mufti Sayeed described the cross-LoC trade as the biggest confidence-building measure between India and Pakistan. He accorded high priority to telecom and banking facilities to broaden the scope of business.

The petition in the High Court was filed by president of the Chakan da Bagh LoC Traders’ Association Pawan Anand and other traders in November.“We gave a memorandum of demands to the Chief Minister during his visit on November 21, apprising him of unabated registrations vis-à-vis inadequate infrastructure by the authorities concerned, including the custodian of the trade centre,” said Anand.He alleged that rampant registration of new traders with doubtful credentials had compelled the old traders to move court.“Given that there is no adequate infrastructure, it is illogical on the part of the custodian to register new traders,” said Anand.“The respondents in haste are registering new firms without proper verification, in violation of the SOP, which has played havoc with the lives of the petitioners. It is further contended that in a recent meeting, it was agreed to provide all infrastructural facilities to the petitioners as envisaged under the SOP but till today the same have not been provided to them,” observed the High Court in its notice.The High Court further observed that in the wake of serious charges levelled by the petitioners, the custodian shall file a status report vis-à-vis infrastructural facilities as per the SOP.

The cross-LoC traders have been demanding full-body truck scanners, ISD calling facility to Indian traders to talk to their counterparts from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), increasing the number of tradable items to 21, at least one meeting with PoK traders every month on the Zero Line to discuss and resolve trade related disputes, permit to Indian traders to visit PoK twice a month for seeing the quality of merchandise before placing import orders, banking system and converting itinto transaction-based trade from barter trade.

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