NEW DELHI: Indian agencies have identified 10 Pakistan-based militants, all originally from Kashmir, who are running trading firms that are suspected to have misused cross-LoC trade channels to pump terror funds, illegal weapons, drugs and fake currency into J&K.
India had on April 19 indefinitely suspended cross-LoC trade saying it was being exploited by traders on either side of the LoC to fund illegal and anti-national activities in the Kashmir valley. This, officials here claimed, defeated the original purpose of the initiative, which was to facilitate exchange of goods of common use between local populations across the LoC.
The 10 Pakistan-based militants engaged in cross-LoC trade hail from various areas in J&K such as Budgam, Pampore, Srinagar, Sopore and Pulwama. They mostly crossed over to Pakistan in the 1990s and joined militant outfits, primarily Hizbul Mujahideen. Enquiries and record checks confirmed that these individuals were now active in cross-LoC trade through firms founded with the help of, and under control of, militant outfits in Pakistan.
Interestingly, many trading firms on the Indian side are operated by relatives of these Pakistan-based traders.
The ‘militant-cum-LoC traders’ detected in Pakistan include Basharat Ahmed Bhat, originally from Budgam but who crossed over to Pakistan and joined a militant organisation there. He is now based in Rawalpindi and runs ‘Al Nasir Trading Company’, active in LoC trade. Shabbir Illahi, hailing from Sopore and an active Hizbul member, trades through M N Trading Company and Sultan Traders. He has been chargesheeted in an NIA case.
Showkat Ahmad Bhat, originally from Budgam and who crossed over to Pakistan for arms training in the 1990s, runs Taha Enterprises. He is based in Rawalpindi. Noor Mohd Ganai, who belongs to Beerwah in Budgam, too crossed over to Pakistan in the 1990s for arms training but later founded Al Noor, a trading firm, with help of his brother Farooq Ahmad Ganai. The latter resides in Beerwah.
Khursheed, a resident of Srinagar, crossed over to Pakistan and joined militancy. He is now staying in Islamabad and is involved in LoC trade through Khursheed and Sons, Muzaffarabad.
Imtiyaz Ahmed Khan of Budgam has been living in Muzaffarabad after he crossed over to Pakistan to join militancy. He is active in LoC trading through MIK Traders and Imtiyaz Traders.
Amir, a resident of Pattan in J&K, shifted to PoK to join a militant organisation and now resides in Rawalpindi.
Sayeed Ajay Ahmed Shah alias Aizaz Rehmani is originally from Srinagar. He joined militancy in PoK in the 1990s. He is presently staying in Muzaffarabad and holds the post of vice-chairman of ‘People’s League’ in PoK. Enquiries revealed that Aizaz’s brother-in-law Arshad Iqbal Shah alias Ashu is involved in cross LoC trade since 2010 through MA Traders located at Khwaja Bagh, Baramulla.
The firm allegedly has links with many cross LoC traders involved in drugs trade and hawala transactions. Aizaz was the main supplier of PoK goods to Ashu through cross LoC trade at Salamabad, Uri. In 2016, Ashu was arrested by the NIA.
Mehrajuddin hails from Tral, J&K. He crossed over to Pakistan and joined a militant organisation. Presently, he lives in Rawalpindi and runs a trading company called Mehrajuddin Traders. His elder brother Abdul Rashid Bhat is a registered LoC trader at TFC Uri and operates through RBS Trading Firm.
Nazir Ahmed Bhat, who hails from Pampore and had joined militancy in Pakistan, is involved in LoC trade through New Kashmir Traders/New Kashmir Firm.
During its probe into terror funding cases in J&K, the NIA had decoded the modus operandi of dubious hawala transactions in cross-LoC trade. It involved inimical elements on the Pakistani side handing over terror funds to a suitable Pakistani trading firm followed by the latter under-invoicing the goods to that extent.
On receipt of the consignment, the trader on the Indian side sells goods at the prevailing market price and earns extra profit which matches the extent of under-invoicing. This profit is passed on by the Indian trader to terrorist organisations in the Valley to fuel subversive operations.
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