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California almonds becoming mode of terror funding through cross-LoC trade

New Delhi: California almonds, known worldwide for their high nutritional value, are being used in cross-LoC trade as a mode to earn profits which are funnelled to terrorists and separatists in Jammu and Kashmir, officials said Friday.

India Thursday indefinitely suspended cross-LoC trade at two points along the Line of Control effective Friday, following reports that it was being "misused" by elements from across the border to smuggle weapons, narcotics and fake currency.

The almonds produced in California in the United States have been regularly finding their way through LoC trade involving an extensive transport network.

According to the modus operandi, Pakistani traders under-invoice products like California almonds. After receiving the consignment, traders on the Indian side sell California almonds at the prevailing market price and make an extra and undue profit due to the under-invoicing, a security official said.

The extra money generated is handed over by the traders to terrorists, separatists or anti-national elements in the Kashmir valley to fuel anti-India activities, the official said.

It has also come to the notice of security agencies that a significant number of trading concerns engaged in cross-LoC trade are being operated by persons closely associated with banned terrorist organisations, especially Hizbul Mujahideen.

Some Indian nationals who have crossed over to Pakistan and joined militant organisations have opened trading firms in the neighbouring country.

As a result, many Pak-based trading firms under the control of militant organisations are trading with firms operated by their relatives in the Indian side.

The cross-LoC trade is also being used as a regular channel for funnelling drugs such as cocaine, brown sugar and heroin into the Kashmir valley, adversely impacting the youth and converting many into addicts, the official said.

In a recent example, 66.5 kg of heroin was seized from a Valley-based consignee, and it was found that the drugs came through the cross-LoC trade.

The trade is being exploited for periodically smuggling arms and ammunition into the valley. Numerous seizures have been made of pistols, grenades, spares and ammunition.

Recently, a large cache that was concealed in a consignment of bananas was seized from the driver of a cross-LoC

vehicle from Kulgam, another official

said.

With PTI inputs

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