Jammu : Pakistani rice was the cynosure of all eyes as hundreds of people jostled to get a closer look at stalls selling the commodity at an exhibition of Pakistani items in Jammu Friday. Many packed generous quantities of Pakistani rice and potatoes to take home.
Four Pakistani items – rice, onions, garlic and potatoes – were sent by traders from across the Line of Control for sale in Jammu. The exhibition was arranged by the Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“All these items worth Rs.35,500 Pakistani rupees have been sent and billed to the chamber. We want to gauge the mood of the customers,” Chamber president Ram Sahai said.
When the items were put up for sale, customers rushed to the stalls. They picked up the rice in their hands and instantly declared that it was “very good quality rice”.
“I can say so because I am in the rice business,” said Joginder Singh, a rice seller of Bishnah, a border town, who had come to watch the exhibition.
“Please pack 20 kg for me,” Virender Jain, a local resident, requested the salesman. He said he wanted to impress his wife with the “high quality Pakistani rice”. “This is also one way of pleasing your wife,” he told a reporter who wanted to know why he was buying so much.
Jain also bought 10 kg onions, five kg potatoes and one kilogram of garlic.
“The response to the exhibition has been overwhelming,” Ram Sahai said.
The Pugwash Secretary General Paolo Cotta-Ramusino and the Jammu University vice chancellor Amitabh Mattoo were also present.
Paolo described the cross LoC trade as a “beginning of a new chapter of peace in the Indian sub continent”.
The Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry will be sending the demand of items registered here to their counterparts across the border. “We have also asked them for a list of the items they would like to have from here,” Sahai said.
“The ‘gift items’ period is over. Now it is business. With this cross-LoC trade has formally begun,” he said.
Cross-LoC trade on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawlakote routes began Oct 21 for the first time since 1948, when commercial ties snapped following the India-Pakistan war a year after the bloody partition of the subcontinent.