After a series of raids in Jammu and adjoining districts on Tuesday, the sleuths of Central Bureau of Investigation are close to laying their hands on the biggest gun-running racket emerging from the state. The racket unravels a deep-rooted nexus between bureaucrats and arms dealers in Jammu and Kashmir, and further connects with the organised crime syndicates.
Trunks full of incriminating documents, ledgers, hard disks and files recovered from gun dealers and various government premises in Jammu and Udhampur reveal that norms were thrown to the wind by district magistrates while granting licences in bulk. The receipts and sale records found from over four gun dealers also point out that arm licences were issued in a very large quantity.
A confidential report of Jammu and Kashmir Home Department (AR/151/2017) dated July 2018 reveals: “Dy Commissioners of various districts particularly DC Kupwara and DC Udhampur have issued gun licences which run in thousands. It is also reflected in the report that authorities of districts are involved in malpractices in issuance of arms licences in lieu of monetary consideration.”
CBI sources said the role of various senior officials, including that of IAS officers, is being probed in connection with serious irregularities committed while granting bulk gun licences.
The nexus between bureaucrats and gun-runners was unravelled when Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of Rajasthan police informed the J&K government in 2017 that arm licences were issued to criminals by authorities in districts such as Jammu, Kupwara and Kathua. During the interrogation of the accused persons, the ATS discovered that government officials and licensed arms dealers in J&K were involved.
“We are of the view that persons of criminal background, who by law cannot get arms licences, procured these gun licences or got them renewed. We are gathering evidence on end users,” said a CBI source.
Meanwhile, in Delhi, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) also swung into action. The MHA accessed details from National Database for Arms Licences (NDAL) for the period 01.01.2017-23.08.2018 and found indiscriminate issuance of licence in various districts of J&K. Obviously, concerned from a security point of view (as the matter relates to J&K), an enquiry was also initiated in New Delhi. Later on the instructions of MHA, the state government ordered Divisional Commissioner (Jammu/Kashmir) to conduct a probe in various districts relating to arms licence racket.
The report of the Divisional Commissioner finally corroborated the ATS findings.
The J&K government then decided to order a CBI probe into the gun scandal. Sources in the CBI said that various documents are being scrutinized to identify persons who were issued gun licences. According to an official, once the criminal syndicates, which procured the gun licences are identified, the agency will also probe their links with inter-state gangs or militant outfits.