JAMMU, Aug 9: The State Government has decided to handover the arms licenses racket in Jammu and Kashmir in which IAS officers and other influential persons were involved to the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) in view of national wide ramifications of the State, which had roots in Rajasthan also. Few days back, the Rajasthan Government had also written to the Central Government seeking CBI probe in the scam.
Official sources told the Excelsior that the CBI investigations into the arms licenses racket were necessitated in view of involvement of bigwigs including some IAS officers, who had served as Deputy Commissioners in some districts of Jammu and Kashmir and their links with Rajasthan racketeers as the scam has assumed national proportions.
An order to handover the case from the State Vigilance Organization to the CBI was issued by the Home Department today following a decision to this effect taken by the State Government as the CBI would be able to go into roots of the scam, which was not only confined to Jammu and Kashmir and Rajasthan but there were reports that it might have spread to some other States also.
On July 14, the State Government had handed over investigations in the scam to the State Vigilance Organization (SVO), which had registered two FIR Nos. 11/2018 and 18/2018 at Jammu/Kashmir under Section 5 (2) Prevention of Corruption Act read with Section 3/25 Arms Act and 120-B RPC.
“In pursuance of Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 (Act No. 25 of 1946), the Government of Jammu and Kashmir hereby accords consent to the extension of powers and jurisdiction of the members of Delhi Special Police Establishment in the whole of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, to investigate and inquire into the offences and attempts, abetments and conspiracies in relation to or in connection with the two FIRs registered by the Vigilance Organization,’’ an official orders issued by the Home Department said, adding that the Delhi Special Police Establishment will also inquire into other offences committed in the course of same transactions or arising out of the same facts.
Eight districts of Jammu and Kashmir have been named by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and National Database for Arms Licenses (NDAL), for issuing indiscriminate arms licenses. The districts were identified as Kishtwar, Rajouri, Ramban, Reasi and Udhampur in Jammu region; Kupwara and Ganderbal in Kashmir and Leh in Ladakh region.
Sources said 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.
The Government has already 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.
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.
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.
Director General of Rajasthan Police O P Galhotra has written to the State’s Home Department suggesting “transfer of the case” to the CBI without any further delay.
The Rajasthan State police chief said 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 of the scam, involvement of public officials of Jammu and Kashmir and the implication on the national security, the Police Headquarters had recommended that the case need to be transferred to the CBI for comprehensive investigation,’’ he said.
The ATS probe so far has indicated involvement of some IAS officers of the Jammu and Kashmir cadre in issuance of arms licenses on forged documents.
According to the police probe, around 4.29 lakh arms licenses have been issued in the last one decade from various districts of the militancy-hit state.
According to ATS officials, 1,32,321 of the 1,43,013 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 4,29,301, of which just over 10 per cent were issued to residents in the State.
The probe had also brought over 3,000 gun licenses that had been issued in the name of purported army personnel who had served in Jammu and Kashmir under the scanner of ATS who had asked the army to verify the names following suspected involvement of a gang to procure them illegally, sources said.
The case dates back to November last year when the Rajasthan police’s ATS carried out an operation, codenamed “Jubaida”, and arrested 52 people for their alleged involvement in getting gun licenses issued from various districts of Jammu and Kashmir under suspicious circumstances. The licenses included 3,367 in the name of purported army personnel.