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J&K gun license case: CBI raids premises of 8 ex-DMs/DCs

New Delhi: In the agency's first major operation in the newly christened Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, the Central Bureau of Investigation on Monday began conducting searches in Jammu and Srinagar, in connection with two cases related to the alleged fraudulent issuance and renewal of around 2 lakh arms licenses to non-residents of the region by the district administrations of Baramulla, Kishtwar, Kupwara, Doda, Pulwama, Udhampur, Sopian and Rajouri.

The reorganisation of the state has led to the CBI getting independent jurisdiction to take action in corruption cases. However, it must be noted that these cases were registered in 2018 when Jammu and Kashmir was a state, based on the consent provided by the erstwhile state government.

Officials here said that the searches were conducted at the premises of Rajeev Ranjan (IAS:2010), then DC of Kupwara district and Yasha Mudgal (IAS:2007), then DM of Baramulla and Udhampur districts. In addition, the central agency also conducted raids at the premises of former DMs of the other districts named in the case. The district officials so far identified in the racket are Itrat Hussain, then DM Kupwara; Saleem Mohammad, then DM Kishtwar; Mohammad Javed Khan, then DM Kishtwar and Sopian; FC Bhagat, then DM Rajouri; Farooq Ahmed Khan, then DM Doda and Jehangir Ahmed Khan, then DM Pulwama.

The searches were conducted at 17 locations at the premises of the accused in Noida, Gurugram, Srinagar, Jammu and Mohali. Officials in the know added that documents related to various properties, bank accounts and issuance arms licenses were found during the searches.

According to a Ministry of Home Affairs report that contained inputs from various security agencies, the officials in the office of the District Magistrate in Kupwara were indulging in malpractices by issuing abnormal amounts of gun licenses to non-residents of the state, thus flouting norms and procedures. The report also said there is "prima-facie involvement of some arms dealer based in Jammu, who has acted in collusion with dealing hands in the office of DC, Kupwara".

The CBI had earlier this year also conducted searches across the region at the premises of private gun houses as part of its investigation in the same case, from where officials said they had recovered documents related to renewal and issuance of gun licenses and blank NOCs, purportedly issued by district administrations in Jammu and Kashmir.

The MHA report, which is referenced in the CBI's FIR went on to cite that the proximity of Kupwara to the Line of Control (LoC) combined with the "indiscriminate issuance" of gun licenses may have "internal security ramifications".

The CBI had registered these cases in October 2018 after getting the due consent of the state government at the time, which had itself received a report from the Anti-Terrorist Squad and Special Operations Group of Rajasthan Police, which was investigating a similar case of issuance of gun licenses in certain districts of Jammu and Kashmir.

Besides, the J&K Police's CID had also given similar inputs to the Home Department in the state, based on which it had ordered an independent probe into the matter in April 2017, headed by IAS officer KB Agarwal, then Financial Commissioner, J&K Government. The CBI's FIR in the case also mentions a report by the National Database for Arms Licenses (NDAL), prepared for the time between January 2017 to February 2018 which showed indiscriminate issuance of individual arms licenses in certain districts of Jammu and Kashmir.

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