Mehbooba’s aide quizzed over illegal allotment of works

Mehbooba’s aide quizzed over illegal allotment of works

Senior PDP leader and former minister Naeem Akhtar was questioned by Jammu and Kashmir Crime Branch sleuths on Sunday over alleged favouritism and irregularities in allotments of works in the State-controlled Projects Construction Corporation (JKPCC).

Sources said that Akhtar was quizzed over his role in certain allotments and reinstatement and appointment of a Managing Director (MD) in his capacity as Chairman of JKPCC for over two years.

The four-hour-long questioning, which according to a Crime Branch officer was “interaction”, happened at the former minister’s official residence on posh Gupkar Road in Srinagar.

Sources said that the Crime Branch has detected “illegal and fraudulent handling of matters” including allotment of works to the tune of over Rs 200 crore to handpicked contractors without tenders and without attempting any competition in the whole process.

“Illegal allotment of works for AIIMS, in south Kashmir’s Awantipora area to the tune of Rs 110 crore to a contractor perceived to be very close to Mufti family, has been particularly under investigation. Interestingly, works to such a huge amount have been allotted to the company which the influential contractor is known to have launched just days before getting the allotments,” they revealed.

Akhtar, a close confidant of former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, however, denied any wrongdoing and said that he cooperated with police officials. “I am sure that truth will prevail. I have done nothing wrong and all due processes were followed,” he said.

Sources said that Crime Branch has completed its investigation in several matters and the preliminary challan would be shortly filed in a court, while investigation in several other matters would continue and could be completed in the next few months.

Last year, immediately after the fall of the Mehbooba-led government in June, the BJP leader and former vice-chairman of the JKPCC Khalid Jehangir had written a letter to the J&K governor leveling serious corruption allegations against Akhtar.

In the letter, Jehangir had demanded a fact-finding committee to probe the corruption in construction of various important projects including flyovers and hospitals.

This year in April, the governor administration handed the investigation into alleged scams in the JKPCC to the state Crime Branch.