CBI raids 13 places in J&K, NCR in arms licence case
In its first major anti-corruption operation in Jammu and Kashmir after the reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir as a Union Territory, the Central Bureau of Investigation on Monday raided 13 locations including premises of senior IAS officers Yasha Mudgal and Kumar Rajeev Ranjan while investigating alleged irregularities in the issuance of hundreds of thousands of arms licences to non-residents over 10 years between 2007 and 2017, CBI spokesperson Nitin Wakankar said.
A CBI officer who spoke on condition of anonymity said at least 200,000 arms licences which are under the scanner may have been issued to people from outside the state masquerading as officers/personnel of armed forces and central paramilitary forces deployed in J&K over the years.
Army officers/personnel are eligible to obtain an arms licence in the district in which they are deployed. They can also do so easily, without the requisite police verification, merely on the strength of a letter from the commanding officer. It is believed that these letters may have been forged or misused with the involvement of some army officers and jawans.
The federal anti-corruption probe agency was handed the investigation in August last year after the Rajasthan police stumbled upon the scandal in 2017.
Wakankar said that after J&K became a UT on October 31, CBI now has the jurisdiction to operate there under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act.
Among those raided on Monday are Mudgal, a 2007-batch IAS officer, and Ranjan, a 2010-batch IAS officer, who served as the district collector and district magistrate in various districts in J&K, and also several other district magistrates, Itrat Hussain, Mohammed Saleem, Mohammed Junaid Khan, FC Bhagat, Farooq Ahmed Khan and Jenhagir Ahmed Mir. Residences of these officers in Srinagar, Jammu, Gurugram and Noida were searched for several hours. The agency has registered two cases in the matter, Wakankar added.
The public servants allegedly received bribes in lieu of issuing licences to non-residents of Jammu and Kashmir in violation of rules, said the CBI official cited above.
The case was handed over to CBI on the basis of a recommendation from the Rajasthan Director General of Police, OP Galhotra.
According to Rajasthan Police officials, the Jammu and Kashmir government was informed about the racket in 2017 but several letters addressed to then Chief Secretary B B Vyas remained unanswered.
The Rajasthan Anti terror Squad has claimed that 1,32,321 of the 1,43,013 licences issued in Jammu region’s Doda, Ramban and Udhampur districts were to those residing outside the state. The number of licences issued for the entire state over the last 10 years is 4,29,301, of which just 10% was issued to residents in the state.
The Rajasthan police further claimed they were not aware of the magnitude of the case and its serious ramifications when they began the operation, code named “Jubaida”.
A sample survey of licences 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 licences may have been issued to outsiders on the basis of forged documents.