New Delhi: After a delay of seven years, the centre has finally decided to install full-body truck scanners at cross-LoC trading points in Jammu and Kashmir, which are expected to become operational by end of this year. The Union Home Ministry’s move comes a day after the security forces recovered arms and ammunition hidden in a corner of a truck, plying between Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
A senior Home Ministry official said the finalisation of contract for full-body truck scanner and delivery of the equipment would be done in the next few months. The construction of infrastructure required for the installation of the facility is expected to be completed soon and it will become fully operational by end of this year, the official said.
The cross-LoC trade takes place at Salamabad in Uri and Chakan-Da-Bagh in Poonch, Jammu and Kashmir. The process of procuring full-body truck scanners was initiated in 2009 and the Defence Ministry had been made the nodal agency for its purchase, official sources said.
However, several rounds of discussions and reports yielded no results, leading to cancellation of the tender, the sources said. Later, the Union Home Ministry was made the nodal agency and a tender was issued in 2014. During negotiations with various vendors, it was found that the truck scanners could not detect arms and ammunition and certain narcotic substances.
Some of the vendors, later on, agreed to deliver customised full-body truck scanners after which the process was set in motion, the sources added. Lack of trading mechanisms and infrastructure like full-body truck scanners at cross-LoC trade point throw up several security threats.
Yesterday’s recoveries include a Chinese pistol, two pistol magazines, 14 pistol rounds, four AK magazines, 120 AK rounds and two Chinese grenades. In 2014, narcotics substances worth crores of rupees were found from a track at the Salamabad trading point. The drugs were hidden under a consignment of almonds meant for a trader in the Kashmir Valley.
The cross-LoC trade was started in October 2008 and is considered as one of the biggest Kashmir-specific Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) announced by the two countries.
The cross-LoC trade still takes place in a primitive barter system, with no banking or communication facilities available.