Getting ready for trans LoC trade

Traders in the Kashmir Valley are gearing up for the opening of trade routes across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan.As a convoy of 13 trucks carrying fruits to Pakistan occupied Kashmir left Baramulla’s mandi, hundreds of fruit growers turned up to see off the vehicles. The trucks will cross Kaman on Tuesday. However, for security reasons they had to reach Salamabad on Monday itself. All Valley Fruit Growers Association, an amalgam of 14 organisations, had organised a consignment of 12 tonnes of fruits for PoK’s market. A large number of drivers had offered their services for this historic trip, only 13 were selected through a draw of lots.“I still can’t believe my luck that I will be driving to Chikoti (PoK) with apples,” said an elated Zahoor Ahmad Bhat. “My entire village is excited that I will drive on a route that had remained closed for 62 years,” he added. The trucks were all decorated with banners saying “long live crossLoC trade”. At Sopore’s mandi, hundreds of fruit growers shouted pro-LoC trade slogans, as they assembled to see off four trucks. “Hopefully, fullfledged trade will start soon through Kaman,” said Basher Beig, president of the fruit mandi. “This trip will bring two nations closer,” said Mehboob Ahmad Magray, a driver from Kupwara.Director of Horticulture Department, Showket Ahmad, who accompanied the trucks up to Salamabad, was jubilant too. “Kashmiri fruit growers will now have access to a big market,” he said.
A new road has been laid outside the proposed truck terminal, where the vehicles will drive in on Tuesday. The workers are busy giving final touches to the Customs office and godowns that will store fruits.At Lalpul, one can see ruins of a pre-partition market. There are only three kiosks selling eatables here. “For us, the LoC trade will serve a purpose only when trucks stop here,” said Mohammad Qadeem, who sells vegetables.Traders at the only Hindu dominated village, Lagama, are upbeat too. “This is the foundation of peace,” said Vishwanath, a villager.

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