ACB unearths Custodian land scam in Jammu, 5 FIRs registered

DIG ACB Vikas Gupta addressing media persons at ACB Headquarters in Jammu. — Excelsior/Rakesh
DIG ACB Vikas Gupta addressing media persons at ACB Headquarters in Jammu. — Excelsior/Rakesh

10 Revenue officials, cops among several booked

Nishikant Khajuria
JAMMU, June 14: Unearthing a major land scam in Jammu, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has booked two Tehsildars among 10 Revenue officials besides several beneficiaries, including some notorious land grabbers, Police officials and a former Personal Assistant of an Ex-Minister.
Following registration of five FIRs in this connection, ACB conducted simultaneous raids and searches at multiple locations in Jammu and seized relevant Revenue documents as well as some unaccounted cash.
The cases involve fraudulent grabbing of Custodian land by the alleged beneficiaries in connivance with Revenue and Police officials by tempering the land record and then selling it to other persons.
Briefing media persons at the ACB Headquarters in Jammu, DIG Anti-Corruption Bureau, Vikas Gupta informed that action was taken following inputs that Custodian land in thousands of Kanal situated at Asarwan, Mishriwala and Bhalwal Jammu, has been fraudulently grabbed by the land grabbers and gangsters in connivance with the Revenue and Police officials.
“ACB conducted a formal verification wherein it was found that in furtherance of the criminal conspiracy, FORM 3-A (Form Alf) along with Power of Attorneys (POAs) were obtained from various PoJK Refugees, alluring them of additional lands and providing them instant money ranging from 5000/- to 50,000/- by the conduits of land grabbers, and thereafter insertions/additions regarding additional chunks of custodian lands were made in the Revenue records by the officials of the Revenue and Custodian department, by sheer abuse of their official positions, and these lands were sold by the conduits and attorney holders to various persons including their own gang leaders and members, by resorting to fraudulent means, thereby causing a huge loss to the Govt,” he explained.

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Owing to the establishment of, prima facie, nexus of the criminal elements/land grabbers and the Revenue/ Custodian officers/officials in alienation of Custodian land through fraudulent means, ACB has registered five formal case FIRs in Police Station Central J&K for investigation under the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act, criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery and fraud.

SSP Police Station Central, Surinder Sharma, who accompanied the DIG, elaborated that the accused Revenue officers and officials include two Tehsildars, two Naib-Tehsildars, four Patwaris and two Girdawars.
He identified them as Tehsildar Sushil Virdi, Tehsildar Amit Upadhya, Naib Tehsildar Rafat, Naib -Tehsildar Akeel Ahmed, Girdwar Mohd Aslam, Girdwar Amzad Malik, Patwari Shakeel Ahmed, Patwari Pranab Dev, Patwari Javed Ahmed and Patwari Altaf Hussain.
Following registration of FIRs and after obtaining the search warrants from the Special Judge Anti-Corruption Jammu, search teams comprising ACB officers, independent witnesses and Magistrates were dispatched to around sixteen locations throughout Jammu and its adjoining areas.
Raids were conducted in the premises of accused Revenue officials and beneficiaries of the land scam, who include notorious land grabbers, gangsters and a former Selection Grade Police constable who was also working as Personal Assistant (PA) of an Ex-Minister and a senior BJP leader.
Sources said that father of this ‘PA’ had managed Power of Attorney of Custodian land through fraudulent means and then sold the same to his Constable son at the cost of around Rs one crore.
Sources further said that Revenue documents, including FORM-3A, Power of Attorney and sale-deeds etc besides unaccounted cash have been seized during day-long searches at different locations.
In addition to 5 FIRs registered, ACB informed that verification is still in progress to unearth the remaining usurped custodian land by land mafia in connivance with officers and officials of Revenue, Police and Custodian Department.
SSP Sandeep Wazir, SSP Kulwant Jasrotia and Chief Prosecuting Officer Aamir Al-Mansoor accompanied DIG ACB during the media briefing.