In first major crackdown in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) conducted simultaneous raids at 17 locations in Srinagar and Jammu and offices of eight former District Magistrates/Deputy Commissioners today in connection with issuance of over two lakh arms licenses during past few years especially from eight districts in the erstwhile State, reported Daily Excelsior.
This was the first major CBI action in Jammu and Kashmir after it became the Union Territory and the premier investigating agency got all powers to deal with corruption cases here like other States and Union Territories of the country, said the report.
According to report, houses and offices of serving and retired IAS/KAS officers were searched and incriminating documents were recovered. The officers whose premises were searched included Yasha Mudgal, Managing Director, Jammu Power Distribution Corporation, Kumar Rajiv Ranjan, CEO Metro Regulatory Authority Jammu and Vice Chairman, Jammu Development Authority (JDA), Faquir Chand Bhagat and Javed Khan, retired Deputy Commissioners, all in Jammu region and Jehangir Mir, Farooq Khan and Itrat Hussain Rafique, all former Deputy Commissioners in Kashmir.
Faquir Chand Bhagat had served as the Deputy Commissioner Rajouri before retirement. He had later joined the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and contested 2014 Assembly election from Bishnah. Some time back, he had joined the BJP. Javed Khan was previously posted as the Deputy Commissioner Shopian, it said.
Kumar Rajiv Ranjan, an IAS officer of 2010 batch, had held the posts of Deputy Commissioner Jammu and Kupwara while Yasha Mudgal, an IAS officer of 2007 batch of Jammu and Kashmir cadre, had served as the Deputy Commissioner of Udhampur and Baramulla.
An official statement issued by the CBI late this evening said the Agency conducted searches at around 13 locations spread over Srinagar, Jammu, Gurgaon and Noida in the premises of then Deputy Commissioners/District Magistrates of Kupwara, Baramulla, Shopian and Pulwama, all in Kashmir Valley, Udhampur, Kishtwar, Rajouri and Doda, all in Jammu region.
“Searches were conducted in ongoing investigation of two cases related to allegations of issuance of around two lakh arms licenses from different districts of Jammu and Kashmir by then respective Deputy Commissioners/District Magistrates,” the statement said, adding that incriminating documents have been recovered during searches which were being investigated by the CBI.
The statement said in addition to receipt of gratification, the arms licenses had also been issued to non-residents of Jammu and Kashmir in violation of rules.
“It was also alleged that the then public servants in this conspiracy of issuance of licenses to non-residents of Jammu and Kashmir in violation of rules, allegedly received gratification,” the statement said, adding further investigations were on.
According to the statement, the CBI had registered two cases with the consent of Jammu and Kashmir Government and further notification from the Government of India. After taking over the case, searches were earlier conducted at 13 places including Srinagar, Udhampur and Jammu at the locations of private gun houses which had also led to recovery of incriminating documents including issue, renewal of arms licenses, blank application forms submitted by various license seekers, money transactions of gun dealers with licensees, blank No Objection Certificates (NOCs) purportedly issued by the District Magistrates and other documents, the statement said.
The newspaper Daily Excelsior quoted sources as having said the CBI teams which had landed in Jammu and Srinagar late last evening from New Delhi conducted simultaneous searches this morning in offices and residences of the officers, mostly the former Deputy Commissioners/District Magistrates and concluded the operation by this evening.
The teams have seized relevant documents pertaining to the issuance of arms licenses. However, the concerned officers haven’t been questioned so far.
The CBI teams conducted searches at Yasha Mudgal’s office of Jammu Power Distribution Corporation Limited near Jammu University and residence at Power Development Corporation Guest House at Satwari. Similarly, Kumar Rajiv Ranjan’s residence near Circuit House, Canal Road, Metro Regulatory Authority office at Mini Secretariat and JDA office at Bahu Plaza were searches.
Faquir Chand Bhagat’s residence at Greater Kailash and Javed Khan’s house at Bhatindi were searched during the day.
In Srinagar, the CBI today conducted raids at the residence of three retired bureaucrats in multi-crore gun license scam.
The CBI raided the residences of, Jehangir Mir, Farooq Khan and Itrat Hussain Rafique all former Deputy Commissioners this morning. The raids were conducted at Friends Colony, Humhama, Rajbagh and Bagh-e-Mehtab areas of Srinagar.
None of the retired bureaucrats were present at their houses when they were raided by the CBI. However, Itrat Rafique, who was in North Kashmir, rushed back to his house.
The raids continued for hours during which property documents were seized from their residence. Cell phone of Rafique was also seized.
Mir, Khan and Rafique were Deputy Commissioners in Kulgam, Doda and Kupwara respectively when they had issued the gun licenses.
Sources told the Excelsior that searches in another major scam involving prominent political leaders of Congress and National Conference and top IAS officers, were likely to be conducted shortly. The scam runs into several thousands of crores of rupees.
The arms license racket of Jammu and Kashmir was handed over to the CBI on the basis of a recommendation from Rajasthan Director General of Police O P Galhotra after the Anti-Terror Squad had busted a racket related to the matter.
The Agency had registered two FIRs in this regard with the consent of the Jammu and Kashmir Government with the then Deputy Commissioner of Kupwara listed as an accused in one of them, while unidentified officials of various districts have been mentioned in another, sources said.
The CBI’s Chandigarh unit has registered the FIRs for alleged criminal misconduct and criminal conspiracy under the Ranbir Penal Code and in violation of Section 3/25 of the Arms Act, besides provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act.
According to sources, the Jammu and Kashmir Government was informed about the racket in 2017 and several letters addressed to the then Chief Secretary B B Vyas remained unanswered.
Strange it may sound but it’s a fact that Jammu and Kashmir has issued more than four lakh gun licenses, second after most populated Uttar Pradesh, Daily Excelsior reported.
Official sources told the Excelsior the figures of more than 4 lakh gun licenses in Jammu and Kashmir is quite stunning as the Union Territory is infested by the militancy for the past three decades. Moreover, J&K ranks 20th in terms of population in the country.
The figures suggested that with a population of 1.25 crore, now for every 33 persons, there is a gun license in Jammu and Kashmir.
Most of the fake licenses that surfaced during fake gun license probe in Rajasthan by the ATS had come from Jammu and Kashmir, sources said.
Sources pointed out that fake gun licenses from Jammu and Kashmir besides Nagaland were being abundantly used to ‘purchase’ arms from gun houses in many parts of Rajasthan, including Udaipur, Sikar and Jaipur.
According to services officials, 1,32,321 of the 1,43,013 licenses in Jammu region’s Doda, Ramban and Udhampur districts were issued to those residing outside the Union Territory.
The figure for the entire Union Territory is 4,29,301, of which just 10 per cent were issued to residents in the erstwhile State.
A sample survey of licenses issued from Kupwara, a frontier district in north Kashmir, showed that no files or registers were maintained by the district authorities and many of the arms licenses may have been issued to outsiders on the basis of forged documents, reported Daily Excelsior.