State Govt recommends CBI probe

SRINAGAR, SEP 4: The Jammu and Kashmir government has recommended a CBI probe into the gun-license racket after names of public officials, especially some IAS officers from the State, surfaced during investigations carried out by Rajasthan police’s Anti-Terror Squad (ATS), officials said on Tuesday. The recommendation was made by the State administration led by the previous Governor N N Vohra last month, the officials said, adding that the State’s Vigilance branch has been asked to carry out probe on the basis of findings of Rajasthan’s ATS until the CBI takes over the case. However, the CBI, after perusing the documents handed over to the agency by the State Government, sent further queries and was awaiting its response, officials said.
The CBI has asked the State Government to furnish some of the relevant documents before it considers filing of a case to probe issuance of 4.29 lakh arms licenses in last one decade from various districts of the militancy-hit State, they said. The unholy nexus between bureaucrats-middlemen-arms dealers was unravelled by Rajasthan Police’s ATS last year. Over 50 people including brother of an IAS officer have been arrested in the case so far, as majority of these arms licenses were given to people who do not belong to Jammu and Kashmir on basis of forged documents, the officials said. The CBI has also pointed out to the State Government about non-cooperation by its officials to Rajasthan ATS and indicated some senior bureaucrats may also be questioned, if warranted, during the investigations.
According to the ATS officials, 132321 of 143013 gun licenses in Jammu region’s Doda, Ramban and Udhampur districts were issued to those residing outside the State. The figure for the entire State is 429301, of which just 10% were issued to the State’s residents.
Senior officials in the Governor’s office said action will be taken against all those guilty of issuing fake licenses.
Rajasthan ATS officials said initially 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 licenses 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 licenses may have been issued to outsiders on the basis of forged documents.
Rajasthan’s Director General of Police, O P Galhotra has also recommended a CBI probe in the gun-licensing racket and suggested “transfer of the case to the CBI without any further delay.”
The State Police Chief said that the case pertains to the issuance of arms licenses in ‘fraudulent manner by various authorities in Jammu and Kashmir’. “In view of the large scale scam, involvement of public officials of Jammu and Kashmir and the implication on the national security, the police headquarters had recommended in December 2017 that the case need to be transferred to the CBI for comprehensive investigation.
“The decision of the Government in this regard is still awaited,” Galhotra said, while drawing attention towards the recent deliberations with Rajasthan Home Minister to seek early transfer of the case to the CBI.
The case dates back to November last year when Rajasthan Police’s ATS carried out an operation and arrested 52 people for their alleged involvement in getting gun licenses issued from various districts of J&K under suspicious circumstances. The licenses included 3,367 in the name of purported army personnel, the officials said. Letters were written in this connection to Army, Indian Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, 7 para-military forces including Border Security Force (BSF) and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), National Cadet Corps (NCC), Railway Protection Force (RPF) and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF). While most of the agencies have replied, a comprehensive response from the army was still awaited, notwithstanding the reminders, the officials said.