The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has stated that several district magistrates in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir had issued gun licenses illegally to people.
The illicit act has been going on since 2012; the magistrates in some districts, with the help of arms dealers, carried out the act. The CBI is actively probing into the matter.
The incident is turning out to be the biggest arms license scam in the country. CBI recovered around 2.78 lakh illegal gun licenses during the investigation.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) stated that it had conducted searches in around 40 locations in Jammu and Kashmir. Additionally, it also investigated over twenty gun houses concerning the gun licenses scam.
CBI also raided the houses of two IAS officers – Neeraj Kumar and Shahid Iqbal Choudhary. Shahid Iqbal Choudhary had served as the district magistrate of over six districts in Jammu and Kashmir, including Kathua, Reasi, Rajouri, and Udhampur.
On his Twitter, Shahid Choudhary confirmed that the CBI has raided his residence and said that no incriminating evidence was found against him. He said that during 2012-2016, around 4.49 lakh licenses were issued in Jammu and Kashmir.
Out of the 4.49 lakh, only 56 thousand, which accounts for nearly 12.6 percent, were issued in the districts of Reasi, Udhampur, and Kathua, which Choudhary was overseeing.
He added that the statistics show that the least number of licenses were issued during his tenure in the adjoining three states.
The raids were conducted in Udhampur, Srinagar, Anantnag, Rajouri, Baramulla, and other districts. The central agency has been investigating over eight former Deputy Commissioners.
The CBI stated that the documents procured by them during the investigation revealed that public servants, including District Magistrate (DM) and Assistant District Magistrate (ADM) of certain districts, allegedly provided illicit licenses to ineligible residents who had provided fake documents.
The racket was first investigated by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of the Rajasthan state unit in 2017. The agency had found that criminals were carrying weapons that were authorized by the bureaucrats and officials in Jammu and Kashmir.
The investigation by ATS found that over three thousand licenses were provided on the basis of fake documents. During the period the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was governing Jammu and Kashmir alongside the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), they were accused of an attempt to shield the accused.
The governor’s rule was imposed in 2018, the Governor of Jammu Kashmir – NN Vohra, then handed over the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation – the prime investigation agency in India.
The Bharatiya Janata Party initiated the investigation by the CBI and had stated that the gun scam has been prevailing in different parts of Jammu and Kashmir since the previous government.
Altaf Thakur, the spokesperson of BJP, stated that the CBI should conduct an investigation and reveal the truth, exposing the people.
Last year, in March, the CBI had taken IAS officers Itrat Rafiqui and Kumar Rajiv Ranjan in custody over allegations of illegally providing thousands of licenses.
They had conducted the illicit act while serving as the District Magistrate for Kupwara.