In what is believed to be India’s biggest arms licence scam, more than 2.78 lakh illegal arms licences have allegedly been issued by bureaucrats to persons with fake IDs in many districts of Jammu and Kashmir since 2012.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said in a statement that it had conducted raids in 40 locations, including the official and residential premises of several former bureaucrats and 20 gun houses across J&K.
“During investigation and scrutiny of documents, the role of certain gun dealers was found who, in connivance with the public servants, i.e. the then DM (distric magistrate) and ADM (assistant district magistrate) of the concerned district, had allegedly issued such illegal arms licences to ineligible persons. It was also alleged that the persons who got these licences were not residents of the places from where the said arms licences were issued,” said the CBI statement.
Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, an IAS officer who served as the DM in six districts of Jammu and Kashmir, was among the officers raided by the CBI. “…I’ve to confirm that CBI did search my residence & found nothing incriminating in ongoing arms license probe,” he tweeted. He also said in that tweet that he is answerable to the CBI for the tenure of four years, that is 2012-16, when he served as the DM of three districts — Reasi, Kathua, and Udhampur. But he admitted that there were irregularities in some cases as the licensing process passes through ‘several clerical stages.’
The arms licence racket was exposed by Rajasthan police in 2017, when they found criminals carrying guns which were licensed by bureaucrats in J&K.
In March 2020, the CBI arrested an IAS officer and a former deputy commissioner from Kashmir in connection with the scam. IAS officer Rajiv Ranjan and Itrit Hussain Rafiqui, both of whom have served as the DMs of Kupwara district, which is the epicentre of this scam, were arrested after investigations revealed that they had issued fake gun licences.