Near about 597 traders associated with the cross- Line of Control (LoC) trade via Salamabad, Uri and Chakan da Bagh, Poonch criticized the Government of India's move to suspend trade via these routes.
On Thursday, Ministry for Home Affairs (MHA) suspended trade along the LoC stating that the routes were used for “inflow of weapons, narcotics and foreign currency”.
The traders from Uri and Poonch told Rising Kashmir that the government had made them a "sacrificial goats" for their own gains.
They said the government’s move would make them bankrupt and have a negative impact on the livelihood of people associated with the trade.
The traders said thousands of families were completely dependent on this trade.
"The government is putting the lives of poor people at risk. We have 200 labourers, 1000 truck drivers and other people associated with the trade. In fact, some of them are staying in rented rooms in Uri," said Abdul Ahad, a trader from Uri.
Ahad said apart from the human sufferings there was also a loss of thousands of crores of rupees.
He said there was a loss of Rs 3 crore per day
"The government has hit our heads with the sword. This order will only increase the misery and worries. There was no prior information about it too. This is injustice," he said.
Another trader from Uri, Tariq Ahmad Khan told Rising Kashmir that the government had literally killed the traders as their amount in crores of rupees was in transit on the route.
“We have money stuck with the traders on the other side. The government is doing injustice with us. If the order will not be withdrawn immediately, we will knock the doors of judiciary for justice," Khan said.
Hilal Turkei, President, cross-LoC Traders Association, said why did the government halt the trade if they had to put a security system in place.
"They can place the system without halting the trade," he said.
Turkei said 21 items were imported and exported from the LoC.
“We get dry fruits, some vegetables, embroidery clothes and other items from the LOC. We export items like spices, embroidery clothes, fresh fruits and other items from here," he said.
Calling the recent move a political stunt, the traders said the LoC trade had been going on for the past 14 years and questioned why it was being halted at the time of elections.
"Halting LoC trade is just politics. The government has leveled false allegations. We support the security mechanism. We have even demanded it from the time National Conference was in power," the traders said.
Cross-LoC Traders Association Vice President, Samiullah Bhat said if the government was aware about what exactly was happening then what were the security persons doing.
"Why are they not taking action," he said.
Bhat said even the carpets were being scanned multiple times.
"The government is using the LoC trade as a card in the elections," he said.
The traders said they were not agitating against the government but were requesting it to withdraw the suspension order as soon as possible as people associated with the trade were suffering badly.
A trader from Poonch, Krishan Singh told Rising Kashmir that there were 368 cross-LoC traders in Chakan da Bagh in Poonch.
"I have been associated with the cross-LoC trade from 2008. I have sold my land and borrowed an amount on loan from the bank to start a business. It was a great step by the government but halting it has a negative impact on the people," he said.
Singh said the government should resume the trade as it had left traders and other people worried and in misery.