Arms licences: Searches in premises of ex-DMs, 20 gun dealers in Jammu and Kashmir

Central Bureau of Investigation HQ, in New Delhi.   | Photo Credit: PTI.

The CBI on Saturday searched the premises of the then district Magistrates and about 20 gun dealers in Jammu, Srinagar, Udhampur, Rajouri, Anantnag, Baramulla and Delhi, in connection with the alleged illegal issuance of over 2.78 lakh arms licences in Jammu and Kashmir from 2012 to 2016.

“Among the officials whose premises have been searched are Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, a 2009-batch IAS official who was district Magistrate (DM) of Udhampur. He is currently Secretary, Tribal Affairs Department, in J&K. Neeraj Kumar, a 2011-batch IAS official, was also the DM of Udhampur. He is currently the Resident Commissioner in Delhi,” said a CBI official.

Mr. Choudhary, through his Twitter handle, confirmed that the CBI searched his residence. He said the agency found nothing incriminating. “I am fully answerable to CBI for my tenure,” he said, stating that in the Reasi, Kathua and Udhampur districts, only 56,000 (12.4%) arms licences were issued during 2012-16.

“This is not disproportionate...of the 56,000 licences issued in three districts — Reasi, Kathua and Udhampur — between 2012-16, only 1,720 were issued in my tenure — 3% of all licences issued in three districts in four years or during the period under investigation and 0.38% of all such licences issued in J&K,” read a statement issued by him.

“The licences issued in three districts under my tenure have been among the lowest by any DM in any district...oversight or procedural indiscretion in a few cases cannot be completely ruled out as this passes through several clerical stages. Of the 36,000 licences issued in Udhampur between 2012-16, only 1,500 odd [less than 4%] were issued under my tenure. I’ve complied with agency queries, committed to do so in future also,” it said.

The premises of J&K Administrative Service officials Shabir Ahmed Bhatt, former DM of Rajouri; Farooq Ahmed Baba, former additional district Magistrate (ADM) of Baramulla; Dr. Abdul Hafiz Shah, former ADM of Kupwara; Khurshid Ahmed Sanai, former ADM of Bandipora; Gurvinderjeet Singh, former ADM of Poonch; and Babu Ram, former ADM of Ramban, were also searched.

In October 2018, the CBI had taken over two cases, earlier registered at the Vigilance Organisation police stations in J&K, to probe the scam in the bulk issuance of arms licences to ineligible persons.

“During investigation and scrutiny of documents, the role of certain gun dealers was found. They, in connivance with the public servants, had allegedly got issued such illegal arms licences to the ineligible persons. It was also alleged that the beneficiaries were not residents of the districts from where the said arms licences were issued,” said the official.

In March last year, the agency had arrested an IAS official, Rajiv Ranjan, along with another accused named Itrit Hussain Rafiqui. In the same matter, in December 2019, the CBI had searched 13 locations in Srinagar, Jammu, Gurugram and Noida.

The alleged scam was unearthed during an investigation by the Rajasthan Police’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) in 2017. The ATS had arrested more than 50 people in its case.

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Printable version | Sep 18, 2021 4:13:35 PM |

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