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LoC stand off ends; Pak releases Indian truckers

Thursday, 13 February 2014 - 6:00am IST | Place: Srinagar | Agency: DNA

The 26-day-old LoC standoff ended on Wednesday when Pakistani authorities set-free 27 Indian truckers who had been detained by Pakistan Occupied Kashmir officials demanding the release of Pakistani driver arrested by J&K police for smuggling narcotics worth Rs100 crore in his truck

"The 27 Indian trucker drivers crossed into our side of LoC on Wednesday evening. They are on way to their homes," Ghulam Ahmad Khawaja, district development commissioner of Baramulla, told dna.

The breakthrough was achieved at the diplomatic level between India and Pakistan. Both sides were in constant touch over the issue and ice was finally broken which resulted in the release of Indian drivers.

"The matter was handled at top diplomatic level in Delhi. Today it yielded results," said an official.

The standoff began on January 17 when Jammu and Kashmir police arrested a PoK driver after 114 packets of contraband brown sugar worth Rs100 crore was recovered from his truck.

Instead of supporting the law enforcing agencies, the Pakistani authorities started mounting pressure demanding the release of the driver along with the truck and the brown sugar.

Pakistani authorities had also refused to receive 48 drivers and their trucks that had arrived here on January 17. The Pakistani drivers along with their trucks are stranded in Uri as efforts from J&K government to persuade PoK authorities failed on Saturday.

Pakistani authorities had even gone to the extent of claiming the diplomatic immunity to the drivers which had sent shock waves across Jammu and Kashmir. Angry chief minister Omar Abdullah had hit out at the Pakistan authorities saying drivers do not have any diplomatic immunity and there is no reason why their (Indian) truck drivers should be "held hostage".

Hopes for ending the LoC standoff had brightened on January 30 when the Indo-Pak officials decided to resume the cross-LoC travel as a prelude to end the stalemate over the release of 27 Indian truckers.

After the news about the release broke the truck drivers marched to the crossing points at LoC. However they had to wait till evening for the green signal to cross over.

"We have got the news that the truckers have crossed. We are waiting for the release of my brother," said Devinder Pal Singh, whose brother Sumit Pal Singh is among 27 truckers detained in PoK.

Authorities said the resumption of the trade will be discussed once the truckers issue is solved. "It will be decided later. We will be talking to other side again on this issue," said Khawaja.


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