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    Indo-Pak LoC trade shut to protest tax levy

    Poonch: Locked godowns and a deserted trade centre. The cross LoC trade between India and Pakistan, initiated as a Confidence Building Measure in 2008, remains suspended for the past six weeks as traders stage a shutdown to protest against the state government's decision to levy sales tax.

    Pawan Anand President of the Cross Loc Traders' Association said, "This trade was supposed to be duty-free. After 2-and-a-half years, the Govt has suddenly decided to levy tax on it."

    Traders insist that the Government has deviated from the standard operating procedures which say that all Cross-LoC trade would be duty-free.

    "A clarification issued by the commercial taxes department states that VAT will be levied on LoC trade as PoK is a part of India," said Ranjit Singh, GM, Cross LoC Trade.

    This is the fifth such instance of LoC trade being suspended. Earlier traders have protested against the cap on 50 trucks per week and only 21 items being sold. They had also demanded better communication facilities.

    "We were given three phones, one at the DC's office, one at the Custodian's office and one hotline. Now, things are such that a trader can't even make a call from the DC's office," added Pawan Anand.

    A confidence building measure with business running into crores on an average day, LoC trade has hit a rough patch, for now.