Why CBI Raided Kashmir’s Bakery Magnate?

SRINAGAR: Srinagar bakery magnate, M Showkat Choudhary, was raided by the federal investigator, CBI during the day. Apart from running a school, Choudhary owns the Hatric chain of bakeries across Kashmir.

Mohammad Showkat Choudhary, Promoter, Hatric Group of Companies KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

Reports appearing in the media said the raids were the outcome of an FIR involving the land under the Roshni scheme and various officials are co-accused in the case. The case was registered on June 15.

Reports said the raid came within days after the CBI’s anti-corruption wing registered a case against six government officials including three former IAS officers, who allegedly bestowed ownership rights to Choudhary on a piece of land, despite the original lease being in the name of Mehboob Beigh, son of late Mirza Afzal Beigh.

The piece of land measures four kanals under survey no 1347 min and 1364 min of the Estate Nursing Garh (Srinagar) had been leased out to Mehboob Beigh and Mumtaaz Afzal Beigh in 1977. The lease was to expire in 2020.

On August 6, 2001, the two Beigh’s handed over eight marlas out of this land to Choudhary by virtue of irrevocable Power of Attorney, according to news gatherer IANS.

On basis of this document, Choudhary applied for conferment of ownership rights under the Roshni Act on February 24, 2004.

The then Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, on October 8, 2004, reportedly wrote to the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir communicating that the case cannot be considered for ownership rights as the land in question is on an important road and is within 50 feet from the centre of the road.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a meeting with Kashmir business leaders, an interaction arranged by Dr Darakhshan Andrabi, a BJP leader. The meeting took place in Delhi on April 5, 2022. Choudhary is second from the left.

The Price Fixation Committee (PFC), in its meeting dated March 30, 2005, however, recommended the case of the applicant to the extent, that this land is not required for road widening and is not hit by the provisions of the Ribbon Development Act.

However, the Assistant Commissioner (N), on June 6, 2005, recommended that the land measuring 8 marlas be considered for conferment of ownership under Roshni Act. In the follow-up, Price Fixation Committee again discussed the case on July 11, 2007, under the chairmanship of the then Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Mehboob Iqbal and other members including Sheikh Ejaz Iqbal, then DC Srinagar, Muhammed Afzal Bhat, then Additional Commissioner Kashmir, Mushtaq Ahmad Malik, then Assistant Commissioner, Revenue, Srinagar, Muhammed Akram Khan, then tehsildar, Nazul, Srinagar and Sheikh Muneer Akhtar, then Tehsildar, Srinagar, in which IANS reported the committee approved ownership rights on a piece of the land to Choudhary.

The CBI has registered a case under sections 5 (2) and 5 (1) (d) of J&K PC Act Section 120-B of RPC against these officials. The raid is said to have been part of the investigations in the same case.

The raid came within less than three months of Choudhary’s meeting with the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. The meeting was arranged by a BJP leader and the delegation included various Kashmir businessmen.

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