Funding terror via California almonds

April 19, 2019

Inclusion of California almonds among the goods traded across the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir and their under-invoicing to generate slush funds for terrorists was among the main reasons behind the Centre’s decision to suspend cross-LoC trade from today.

The government said five reasons  — inclusion of third party goods, channelling terror funds, drug trade, supply of arms to support terrorists and pushing in fake currency — went against the move to allow cross-LoC trade.

Government sources said almonds produced in California found their way into India through this route, thus showing how third parties were misusing the facility to trade goods produced outside Jammu and Kashmir.

Moreover, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had also detected “hawala” transactions to fund terror activities.

Sources said Pakistani traders under-invoiced their products, including California almonds, to the extent of money received by them. On the receipt of consignment, the trader on the Indian side sold it at the market price so as to make undue profit to the extent of under-invoicing. The extra money so earned was then handed over to anti-national elements and terrorist organisations in the Valley, sources said.

The modus operandi came to light after businessman and president of LoC traders Zahoo Ahmed Watali was chargesheeted for allegedly funnelling money to terrorists and subversive elements in the Valley. His property has been attached by the Enforcement Directorate.

It has also been revealed that a significant number of trading concerns engaged in cross-LoC trade were being operated by persons closely associated with banned terrorist organisations, especially the Hizbul Mujahideen.

Some Indian nationals who have crossed over to Pakistan and joined militant organisations have opened trading firms in Pakistan. As a result, many trading firms under the control of militant organisations became engaged in cross-LoC trade with firms operated by their own relatives on the Indian side.

The trade channel was being used to push drugs into the Valley, adversely impacting the youth and thereby converting many of them into addicts. Around 66.5-kg heroin consignment that was recently seized from a Valley-based consignee had came through that route.

Another worrying aspect of the cross-LoC trade was the smuggling of arms and ammunition into the Valley. Recent seizure of pistols, grenades and ammunition etc. concealed in a consignment of bananas proved the prevalence of such a trend. Seizure of fake currency worth Rs 57 lakh, Rs 20 lakh, Rs 15 lakh and Rs 7.5 lakh in separate instances and the arrest of over 10 persons indicated that the cross-LoC route was being also used to push fake currency into India, sources said.

Source : TheTribune

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