Arms license case: ED conducts searches at 11 different locations across J&K

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Srinagar, March 28: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has conducted raids at 11 locations across Jammu and Kashmir including residences of a serving IAS officer and two former JKAS officers, two of whom were earlier posted as Deputy Commissioners, in connection with fake gun license racket and recovered large quantity of cash, documents, important gadgetries etc, a statement from the agency said Monday.

Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a statement to KNO saod that it has conducted search operations on 24.03.2022 across the Union Territory of J&K in the Arms license case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 against serving/ retired bureaucrats, officials and arms ammunition dealers.

“ED initiated money laundering investigation in the said case on the basis of FIRS dated 16.08.2018 registered by the Special Crime Branch of Central Bureau of Investigation, Chandigarh,” it said in a statement to news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO).

“Searches have been conducted at 11 different locations including residential premises of Sh. Rajeev Ranjan IAS (former DC, Kupwara), Sh. 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.” it added further.

“Searches were conducted till late night on 24.03.2022 wherein various incriminating documents in the form of property documents and loose papers revealing transactions between the arms dealers/ brokers and Government officers/ officials 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.” ED statement said further.

“The searches conducted were in furtherance of investigation being conducted in the said case wherein it was revealed 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/ officials through arms dealers/ brokers and proceeds of crime were generated by conspiracy between Government officers/ officials and Arms dealers and Arms brokers which is a criminal misconduct under Prevention of Corruption Act.”

The statement said that initial estimation of Proceeds of Crime generated in this case is to the tune of Rs. 40 Crore