Outsiders got gun licenses from J&K without visit

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Oct 9: In an unprecedented act, the Agencies investigating fake arms license racket in Jammu and Kashmir have found that some of the District Magistrates had issued gun licenses to security personnel, who had never been posted in Jammu and Kashmir, even as fear grows that some licenses might have fallen in the “wrong hands” i.e. anti-social and anti-national elements in various States.
Sources told the Excelsior, quoting ongoing investigations in fake arms license racket, that a number of security personnel during their posting at Kokrajhar in Assam and Gandhi Nagar in Gujarat, had been issued licenses from various districts of Jammu and Kashmir even though these security men had never been posted in the State.
“While these two instances have been detected, many more could come to fore as the two Agencies have just initiated investigations into gun license racket, which had deep roots in Jammu and Kashmir amid reports that under the garb of protection from militancy, large number of gun licenses have been issued to the outsiders,” they said.
They added that security personnel posted at Kokrajhar in Assam and Gandhi Nagar in Gujarat had never come to Jammu and Kashmir and they were provided with gun licenses, fake or genuine, by the touts including some gun dealers, who had been running the entire racket with the connivance of some officials.
“This itself explains the deep-rooted nexus the touts had developed in different districts of the State as they were managing gun licenses even for the persons, who were neither posted in Jammu and Kashmir nor they had ever visited here for personal appearance before the Authority,” sources said, adding this was the reason that Jammu and Kashmir despite ranking 20th in population, was rated as second State after Uttar Pradesh, for issuing maximum 3 lakh gun licenses.
Asserting that good number of these three lakh gun licenses could be fake, sources said the two Agencies, which were investigating the case, have access to only those licenses that had been issued through the gun dealers, who were in their custody. A probe into remaining licenses can be conducted on directions of the State Government only, they pointed out.
During the ongoing probe, sources said, apart from the District Magistrates, the investigators have also come across the names of certain Judicial Clerks, formerly posted in different districts, who had also facilitated issuance of gun licenses to the “outsiders” even when they had never visited themselves for obtaining the licenses and everything was settled through the touts.
Sources said the investigators were worried that some of the gun licenses might have landed into the hands of anti-social and anti-national elements including Naxalites in some States of the country. However, they added, this was subject matter of investigation and for that scope of the probe was also required to be widened.
Since one of the case in the arms license racket of Jammu and Kashmir has been registered by the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI), they can cover all aspects of the case including issuance of fake licenses and their landing into the hands of anti-social or anti-national elements, sources said. The second FIR in the arms racket, originating from J&K, has been registered by the Anti-Terrorism Squad of Rajasthan, which has arrested one of the gun dealers from Channi Himmat, who is presently lodged in Udaipur jail.
While Rajasthan ATS was investigating gun licenses issued by six districts of Jammu and Kashmir, the CBI has so far taken up gun licenses issued by former Deputy Commissioner, Rajouri, Faquir Chand Bhagat only.
It may be mentioned here that militancy-hit Jammu and Kashmir has become the second State on the top of the list only after the country’s most populous State Uttar Pradesh where respective district administrations have issued more than 3 lakh gun licenses. A number of these licenses could be fake, sources said.
“The figures of more than 3 lakh gun licenses in Jammu and Kashmir is quite stunning as State is infested by militancy for the past 28 years. Moreover, J&K ranks 20th in terms of population in the country,” sources pointed out.
The figures suggested that with a population of 1.25 crore, now for every 33 persons, there is a gun license in Jammu and Kashmir.  However, investigators said that large number of licenses have fallen into the hands of outsiders.