Govt orders Vigilance probe; bans new, revokes individual licenses

8 distts identified, Div Coms asked to verify all cases
Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, July 14: Acting swiftly and very tough on indiscriminate issuance of arms licenses from eight districts of Jammu and Kashmir, which was pointed out by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and National Database for Arms Licenses (NDAL), the Government today ordered an inquiry into the scam by the State Vigilance Organization, ban on issuance of individual arms licenses by all District Magistrates of the State and steps to revoke individual licenses by the DMs (except security personnel), which don’t meet the laid down conditions.
The Home Department of the Jammu and Kashmir Government has issued a detailed order to this effect.
It identified eight districts responsible for issuing indiscriminate arms licenses as Kishtwar, Rajouri, Ramban, Reasi and Udhampur in Jammu region; Kupwara and Ganderbal in Kashmir and Leh in Ladakh region.
Official sources told the Excelsior that the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, has reported indiscriminate issuance of arms licenses in Jammu and Kashmir with specific reference to certain districts. The NDAL portal has also prima facie revealed indiscriminate issuance of individual arms licenses in some districts of the State from 1.1.2017 to 23.2.2018.
“It was deemed appropriate to have whole gamut of facts/issues investigated through an impartial investigation agency in addition to the enquiries, which are already underway. Accordingly, the matter has been referred to the State Vigilance Organization for investigation and appropriate action in terms of law,’’ the Home Department order said.
It ordered that no fresh individual arms license will be issued by the District Magistrates of Jammu and Kashmir under Section 14 (1) (b) (ii) of the Arms Act 1959 till further orders.
“The District Magistrates of the State will take urgent steps to revoke all such individual arms licenses issued to various persons excluding the personnel of State Police, Army and Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs), which don’t meet all the conditions prescribed in Rule 11 and Rule 12 of the Arms Rules, 2016.
“Further, the District Magistrates will direct all such persons, whose licenses are revoked, to deposit their arms and ammunition with the Officer Incharge of the nearest police station failing which action as warranted under law will be initiated. This action should be concluded within 15 days of issue of this order and compliance reported to the Home Department,’’ the Government order said.
In addition to handing over the case to the State Vigilance Organization (SVO), the Government has also ordered that the Divisional Commissioners of Jammu/Kashmir will verify all cases of individual new arms licenses issued during the period from 1.1.2017 to 23.2.2018 of all eight districts in terms of the extant legal provisions and furnish a detailed report to the Home Department within a period of one month.
“Pending verification by the Divisional Commissioner concerned, the District Magistrates of Kishtwar, Kupwara, Ganderbal, Leh, Rajouri, Ramban, Reasi and Udhampur will not issue any new individual arms license till further orders,’’ the Government order said, adding that the District Magistrates of the remaining districts will exercise due diligence and care while granting any new individual arms license in terms of the extant legal provisions and furnish a regular monthly statement to the Home Department by 5th of the succeeding month without fail.
The Government has also ordered that all District Magistrates will ensure strict compliance with the provisions contained in Arms Rules 2016 at the stage of renewal of an arms license.
The Government order observed that the issues related to grant of individual arms licenses in Jammu and Kashmir has an implication on security of the public peace/public safety.
It also referred to an enquiry already ordered into issuance of arms licenses in the State vide Government Order No. 1307-Home of 2017 dated 20.4.2017 through KB Aggarwal, Finance Commissioner, Jammu and Kashmir Government. This inquiry was ordered following inputs received from CID of Jammu and Kashmir Police with regard to issuance of very large number of individual arms licenses in certain districts of the State.
It also mentioned that there have been a number of instances of unearthing of fake gun licensing rackets under investigation through various investigating agencies particularly ATS and SOG of Rajasthan.