IIOJK businesses call for reopening LoC trade with Pakistan

Srinagar, April 15 (KMS): In Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the traders are demanding of the authorities to reopen trade routes with Pakistan.

Three years after trade was halted across the “Line of Control (LoC)” between India and Pakistan, the impact is being felt by thousands of villagers in remote areas who had depended on free trade.

Before the crossing was closed, trucks loaded with goods would enter IIOJK four times a week.

However, New Delhi stopped cross-border trade in April 2019 as it prepared to scrap Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 and 35 A.

During the holy month of Ramadan, more people are taking fruits and buying other commodities in Muslim-majority territory of IIOJK and the closure has led to high prices for common goods.

The LoC traders’ association in Kashmir said that the prices of commodities had increased by 200 percent after the suspension of trade.

“Buying fruits like grapes, oranges, dates, Miswakhs (teeth-cleaning twigs), or spices that were traded through the LoC is now beyond many people’s budget,” the Kashmiri traders deplored.

When LoC trade was active, 21 items, including varieties of fruits, vegetables, and handicrafts, were allowed to be traded. The trade was carried out duty-free using a barter system and did not involve exchanges of currency.

Official data shows more than 4,000 families were directly involved in the day-to-day trade operations across the LoC. Manufacturers, farmers and truckers also benefited.

After the route was closed, many traders either stopped the business or were under heavy debt.

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