*CBI’s biggest operation in 4 States/UTs in fake arms license racket
FDRs, property documents seized
Sanjeev Pargal/Fayaz Bukhari
JAMMU/SRINAGAR/ LEH, Oct 12: In one of the biggest operations, the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) today conducted simultaneous raids at 41 locations in eight districts of the Union Territory including five in Jammu and three in Kashmir besides Ladakh, New Delhi and Madhya Pradesh at the residence of just relieved Advisor to Lieutenant Governor Baseer Khan in Srinagar and official and residential premises of 14 IAS/JKAS officers among others in connection with fake gun license racket.
Ten gun houses and five middlemen were also subjected to searches during the operation throughout the day in which CBI teams from New Delhi, Chandigarh and Jammu and Kashmir were involved. Click here to watch video
Last week, the Union Home Ministry had relieved Baseer Khan as Advisor to the Lieutenant Governor as the CBI had approached the Ministry that he was allegedly involved in gun license racket and in view of the post held by him the investigations in the scam could be hampered.
Today, the CBI conducted raids at the residence of Baseer Khan, who had served as the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir as well as the Deputy Commissioner of some districts during which fake gun licenses had reportedly been issued. Khan was a JKAS officer and was inducted into IAS.
House of Baseer Khan at Bulbul Bagh area of Srinagar was searched this morning and the CBI recovered incriminating documents. The raids continued for several hours.
During the probe, the agency had come across evidences suggesting the role of Khan, who was made an Advisor to the first Lt Governor G C Murmu and also served the Advisor to LG Manoj Sinha.
Besides Khan, the house of Commissioner Secretary Jal Shakti M Raju, an IAS officer of the 2005-batch was also searched. He was Deputy Commissioner of Kargil during the period being probed by the CBI.
The agency also raided premises of Prasanna Ramaswamy G, an IAS officer of 2010 batch and at present posted as Director Census.
The house of retired IAS officer Sajjad Ahmed Khan was also searched as he was posted as the District Magistrate of Poonch during the period.
The houses of JKAS officer Nissar Ahmed Wani, M H Malik, Farooq Ahmed Khan (retired) and Bashir Ahmed were too searched by the CBI.
Sanjay Puri, who was the District Information officer at Rajouri, was also searched.
Raids in Jammu division were conducted at Jammu, Doda, Rajouri, Kishtwar and Ramban districts while in Kashmir the searches were carried out at Srinagar, Anantnag and Baramulla districts. Besides, the CBI teams launched searches at Leh in the Union Territory of Ladakh, New Delhi and Bhind district in Madhya Pradesh.
An official statement issued by the CBI this evening said the searches were conducted at official and residential premises of 14 then public servants including then District Magistrates (IAS/JKAS), DIO, clerks etc during the day at a total of 41 locations in eight districts of Jammu and Kashmir, one each in Ladakh and Madhya Pradesh besides New Delhi.
“Residences and other premises including shops of 10 Gun Houses/dealers and five private persons, who were middlemen/agents, were also searched during day-long raids in ongoing investigation of a case related to arms license racket,” the statement said.
It added that the CBI recovered incriminating documents including issuance of arms licenses, list of beneficiaries, documents related to investment in Fixed Deposit Receipts (FDRs) and other sale proceeds, property documents, bank account details, locker keys, diary comprising important details, arms license registers, electronic gadgets/mobile phones and cash including old currency.
“During investigation and scrutiny of documents, the role of certain gun dealers was detected, who in connivance with public servants i.e. the then District Magistrates and Additional District Magistrates etc of concerned districts, had allegedly issued such illegal arms licenses to the ineligible persons.
“It has also been alleged that the persons who got these licenses were not residents of the places where the licenses were issued,” the official statement said.
The CBI said it had registered two cases on the request of Jammu and Kashmir Government and further notification from Government of India and taken over investigation of two FIRs i.e. No. 18 of 2018 dated 17.5.2018 earlier registered at Police Station Vigilance Organization Kashmir (VOK) and FIR No. 11 of 2018 dated 17.5.2018 of Police Station Vigilance Organization Jammu (VOJ) on the allegations of bulk issuance of arms licenses in the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir during the period ranging between 2012-2016.
“It has been alleged that more than 2.78 lakh arms licenses were issued to the non-entitled persons. The CBI also collected documents pertaining to issuance of arms licenses allegedly spread over 22 districts of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir State.
Sources said the CBI conducted raids at judicial section of the Deputy Commissioner’s office in Leh district in the Union Territory of Ladakh.
“The CBI asked for certain record which was provided to them,” sources said. The investigating agency took some record for scrutiny and further investigations in fake gun licenses racket. While the CBI has earlier also conducted raids at houses and offices of many former IAS and JKAS officers besides gun dealers and private persons in Jammu and Kashmir, this is for the first time that they carried out raids in Ladakh also.
In Banihal tehsil of Ramban district, the CBI sleuths examined a number of gun licenses after calling the license holders.
“Several persons were called by the Agency who were in possession of gun licenses whose genuineness is doubtful. The licenses were examined and their copies were taken for examination. The license holders were allowed to go,” sources said.
In Jammu, the CBI carried out raid at the residence of Vijay Kumar at Barnai, an employee of SK Arms House Barnai owned by Sushil Kumar. He was reportedly a middleman. He was quizzed by the CBI but allowed to go later after seizure of certain documents.
On July 24 this year, the CBI had conducted raids at 40 locations in Jammu and Kashmir and New Delhi including offices and residences of two serving IAS officers. Earlier, the CBI had arrested a serving IAS officer who was later bailed out by the Court.
The CBI had in December 2019 carried out searches at over a dozen locations in Srinagar, Jammu, Gurugram and Noida on the premises of the then District Collectors and Magistrates of Kupwara, Baramulla, Udhampur, Kishtwar, Shopian, Rajouri, Doda, Pulwama, and several other places.
The searches were carried out in connection with a probe into two cases pertaining to alleged issuance of around two lakh arms licenses from different districts of the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir by their Collectors and Magistrates. It is alleged that arms licenses were issued in lieu of illegal gratification.
It is alleged in the FIR that then public servants in cahoots with other accused issued arms licenses to non-residents of erstwhile State in violation of rules and received illegal gratification.
The Rajasthan ATS had unearthed the scandal in 2017 and arrested over 50 people for their alleged involvement in the illegal issuance of arms licenses. According to the ATS, over 3,000 permits were granted allegedly in the name of Army personnel.
Based on ATS findings, then Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra had handed over the matter to the CBI.