JK: CBI seeks details from govt officers on land allotment to educational trust

The CBI has sought details from some officers of the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state government in connection with its probe into allegations of land grabbing by a Kathua-based educational trust run by a former minister, officials said on Tuesday.

The officers were called in-person on Monday and Tuesday in connection with its enquiry into the matter which involves former Jammu and Kashmir minister Lal Singh, they said.

The officials said the agency will also seek details from some of the trust’s members on alleged irregularities in purchase of government land in violation of existing norms.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had last month registered a Preliminary Enquiry (PE) against R B Educational Trust of Kathua and unknown public servants to probe allegations of illegal gratification and extraneous consideration by revenue and forest officials of Kathua district in allowing sale and purchase of forest land, they said.

Calls made to Singh on his mobile number for comments were answered by his security personnel.

The trust runs a school, and B.Ed (Bachelor of Education) and nursing colleges on the land, transactions of which have now come under the scanner of the central agency for alleged irregularities in its purchase, the officials said.

According to the CBI’s PE, it is alleged that false certificates that such land comes under exempted category under the Jammu and Kashmir Agrarian Reforms Act were used in its purchase by the educational trust, the officials said.

The preliminary enquiry by the CBI has alleged that the trust, a beneficiary of such alleged illegal acts, continues to be in possession of huge tracts of land in gross violation of ceiling prescribed under the JK Agrarian Reforms Act, 1976, they said.

The CBI in some cases does a Secret Information Report (SIR) which is converted into a PE only after verification of facts. During the preliminary enquiry, the agency tries to find if prima facie material exists to move ahead with a formal registration of a case also known as a Regular Case or FIR to start investigation.

During the preliminary enquiry no searches can be conducted or no one can be summoned for recording statements without consent.

Singh had last year quit the BJP and floated the Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan (DSS).

He and the then industries minister Chander Prakash Ganga had resigned from the PDP-BJP dispensation in 2018 after questions were raised over their participation in a Hindu Ekta Manch rally organised in support of those arrested in connection with the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua that year.

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