Nearly two years after the Rajasthan police unearthed the scam, the CBI on Monday carried out searches at 13 places in the newly carved union territory of Jammu and Kashmir which included premises of senior IAS officers Yasha Mudgal and Kumar Rajeev Ranjan.
The CBI, which was handed over the case in August last year, is probing the case in which lakhs of arms licences were issued in the last one decade from various districts of the militancy-hit region, officials said.
This is the first major operation of the agency after the reorganisation of the erstwhile state of JK as a Union Territory. It has given the Central Bureau of Investigation the jurisdiction to operate there under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act that governs it, they said.
The announcement about the state being bifurcated into UTs — Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir — was made on August 5 by the government and it came into existence on October 31.
Besides searching the premises of Mudgal, a 2007-batch IAS officer, and Ranjan, a 2010-batch IAS officer, houses of Itrat Hussain, Mohammed Saleem, Mohammed Junaid Khan, FC Bhagat, Farooq Ahmed Khan and Jenhagir Ahmed Mir were also searched, the officials said.
The searches are being conducted at 13 locations in Srinagar, Jammu, Gurgaon and Noida, they said.
The premises of then deputy commissioners and district magistrates of Kupwara, Baramulla, Udhampur, Kishtwar, Shopian, Rajouri, Doda, Pulwama are being searched in connection with two CBI cases related to alleged irregularities in the issuance of around two lakh arms licences from different districts of Jammu and Kashmir, the officials said.
It is alleged that the then public servants received illegal gratification in issuance of licences to non-residents of Jammu and Kashmir in violation of rules, they said.
The case was handed over to CBI on the basis of a recommendation from Rajasthan Director General of Police OP Galhotra as the anti-terror squad had busted a racket related to the matter.
The agency had registered two FIRs in this regard with the consent of the Jammu and Kashmir government with the then DC of Kupwara listed as an accused in one of them while unidentified officials of various districts have been mentioned in another, they said.
The CBI's Chandigarh unit has registered the FIRs for alleged criminal misconduct and criminal conspiracy under the Ranbir Penal Code and in violation of Section 3/25 of the Arms Act, besides provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act.
According to Rajasthan Police officials, the Jammu and Kashmir government was informed about the racket in 2017 and several letters addressed to then Chief Secretary B B Vyas remained unanswered.
According to ATS officials, 1,32,321 of the 1,43,013 licences 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 10 per cent were issued to residents in the state.
Rajasthan ATS officials said they were not aware of the magnitude of the case and its serious ramifications when they began the operation, code named 'Jubaida'.
A sample survey of licences issued from Kupwara, a frontier district in north Kashmir, showed that no files or registers were maintained by the district authorities and many of the arms licences may have been issued to outsiders on the basis of forged documents.