MUZAFFARABAD: Intra-Kashmir trade from the Chakothi-Uri crossing point did not take place on Tuesday due to a boycott by traders who claim that police and Pakistan customs treat them with hostility.
They made it clear that from this point forward, trade would remain suspended until their issues were settled. For a while now, the traders have been complaining about being subjected to raids while their trucks and mercantile goods were being confiscated by the customs officials as soon they enter Pakistani territory from Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
“As soon as our trucks cross the Kohala bridge, we have to give ‘sweeteners’ to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police first, and then the Punjab police also want their palms greased,” claimed Ajaz Ahmed Meer, a representative of the intra-Kashmir traders.
“As if these two extortionists are not enough, the trucks are then ambushed by officials from Pakistan customs because they maintain that the goods brought under intra-Kashmir trade can only be sold in the AJK territory alone,” he said.
On Nov 30, Mr Meer recalled, the traders moved their vehicles in a caravan to escape this situation, but when they reached Faizabad (Rawalpindi) they were intercepted by customs officials who wanted to confiscate the trucks. “In the ensuing clash between the two sides, two officials and three traders were injured,” he said.
Following the incident, an FIR was registered with the Sadiqabad police against seven nominated and 39 unidentified traders on the application of customs officials.