Arms license and money laundering scam in Jammu & Kashmir: IAS and State Service officers under investigation

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Special Crime Branch of Central Bureau of Investigation, Chandigarh had registered FIRs on 16 August 2018 in an Arms license case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 against serving/ retired bureaucrats, officials and arms ammunition dealers.

Enforcement Directorate (ED) initiated money laundering investigation and on 25 March 2022 conducted search operations against serving/ retired bureaucrats, officials and arms ammunition dealers across the Union Territory of J&K in the Arms License case linked with the FIRs registered in 2018.

Searches were conducted at 11 different locations including residential premises of Rajeev Ranjan IAS (former DC, Kupwara), Itrat Hussain KAS (former DC Kupwara), Ravinder Kumar Bhatt KAS (former ADC Kupwara), Tariq Ather and Gajan Singh (both former judicial clerks at Arms Section, DC Office Kupwara). Residential premises of 6-arms dealers of J&K viz. Amarnath Bhargava (Varun Armoury), his brother Mukesh Bhargava (Bhargava Gun House), Surjeet Singh (Deshmesh Armoury), Mohinder Kotwal (Mohinder Kotwal Arms & Ammunition), Manohar Singh (Swaran Arms & Ammunition) and Devi Dayal Khajuria (Khajuria Arms) were also searched by the ED officers.

In this search operation, incriminating documents in the form of property documents and loose papers revealing transactions between the arms dealers and brokers as well as Government officers have been recovered and seized. Also, cash amounting to Rs. 1.58 Crore, 1.76 kgs of gold valuing Rs. 92.30 lakhs (approx) and digital exhibits have been seized during the course of search operation.

The searches conducted were in furtherance of investigation being conducted in the instant case. Ed has gathered that bulk issuance of arms licenses has taken place in Jammu and Kashmir between 2012 and 2016 which saw over 2.78 lakh arms licenses issued to various defense and paramilitary personnel by flouting the prescribed guidelines and due procedure in lieu of illicit monetary consideration which was paid to the Government officers through arms dealers and brokers and proceeds of crime were generated by conspiracy between Government officers, Arms dealers and Arms brokers which is a criminal misconduct under Prevention of Corruption Act.

Initial estimation of Proceeds of Crime generated in this case is to the tune of Rs. 40 Crore.

Further investigation in the case is under progress.

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