Pakistan army resorted to heavy shelling on the cross-border Trade Facilitation Centre (TFC), regarded as Island of Peace, near the Chakan-Da-Bagh crossing along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Poonch district of Jammu division on Sunday.
Situated five kilometres ahead of the LoC crossing on the Poonch-Rawalakote route, the TFC at the Chakan-Da-Bagh has been set up to oversee the cross border trade between Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) every week.
“It is for the first time since the cross LoC trade started that Pakistan has shelled the facility at Chakan-Da-Bagh. Several shells landed near the facility smashing the glass panes. However, there was no fire or major damage to the facility,” Mohammad Harun Malik, deputy commissioner of Poonch, told DNA.
There were no officials or employees present in the TFC on Sunday as it was a government holiday. Panic gripped the people in the neighbouring villages when the shells landed in the TFC complex.
“Unprovoked ceasefire violation was carried out by Pakistan army in Chakan-Da-Bagh from 1200 hrs. Pakistan army used 82 mm mortars and automatic weapons. Presently intermediate firing is going on. There is no casualty to our troops,” said Lieutenant Colonel Manish Mehta, defence spokesman at Jammu.
Cross-LoC trade, which started in October 2008, is considered as a confidence building measures (CBMs) between India and Pakistan. There are two cross LoC routes — Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalakote — that are used to ferry goods between Jammu and Kashmir and PoK.
However, the trade could not grow beyond the barter system. Official figures reveal that the goods worth Rs 1,496.96 crore were exported from Jammu and Kashmir to PoK from April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2016. It includes Rs 1,182.50 crore from Uri on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route and Rs 314.45 crore from Chakan-Da-Bagh on the Poonch-Rawalkote route.
Similarly the goods worth Rs 1,307.62 crore were imported from PoK to Jammu and Kashmir during that period. It includes Rs 981.20 crore from Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route and Rs 326.42 crore from Chakan-Da-Bagh route.
The two cross border routes are also being used to ferry the members of the divided families of two parts of Jammu and Kashmir in the weekly Karwan-e-Aman bus.
Given the attack on TFC, officials are keeping fingers crossed over the Karawan-e-Aman bus which plies every Monday on Poonch-Rawalakote route through Chakan-Da-Bagh. “The cross LoC bus plies every Monday. We will see how things shape up till evening,” said Malik.
Meanwhile, Pakistan army has also extended the shelling to Krishna Ghati sector using medium and high calibre weapons to target Indian forward positions.
Source: DNA India