Fake Arms License Scam

THE Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Saturday carried out raids at the offices and homes of several senior bureaucrats in nearly 40 locations across Jammu and Kashmir. These raids were part of an ongoing investigation into  arms license racket whereby the deputy commissioners of various districts in the former state are alleged to have illegally issued bulk arms licenses between 2012 and 2016 in lieu of monetary consideration. It is alleged that more than 2.78 lakh arms licenses were issued to non-entitled persons in J&K between 2012 and 2016. The searches were carried out in Jammu, Srinagar, Udhampur, Rajouri, Anantnag, Baramulla and Delhi.

The case first came to light in 2018 when an investigation carried over months by the anti-terror squads of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh revealed that the fake arms licenses procured from J&K have led to the proliferation of illegal weapons across several states. At that time, around 40,000 licenses were said to have been issued in the then state in the preceding six years.

The reason for this is that it was not difficult to get a license in J&K state if anyone faked the identity of security personnel or produced a forged letter from a commanding officer of an army unit and used a picture in the application form wearing an army uniform and greased the palms of the concerned officials.

What is more, most of these licenses were not issued to the J&K residents but to the outsiders. This, in turn, triggered an illegal arms trade in some states with thousands of people ending up possessing arms on fake documents. Alarm bells so triggered led to investigations by  Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan  ATS who  tried to reveal the extent of the scam.

The then J&K Government too had started a probe to be carried out by the State Vigilance Organization. The state’s then home department ordered the divisional commissioners of Kashmir and Jammu regions to verify all cases of individual new arms licenses issued between 1 January, 2017, to 23 February, 2018, in eight districts of the state.

And also the district magistrates in the state were directed to take urgent steps to revoke all such “individual arms licenses issued to various persons excluding the personnel of State Police, Army and Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs).”

J&K Government’s order also required the district magistrates to ensure “all such persons, whose licenses are revoked, to deposit their arms and ammunition with the officer in charge of the nearest police station, failing which action, as warranted under the law, will be initiated”. The probe brought under its scanner the district magistrates from the various districts which had witnessed the issuance of most of the licenses.

As the CBI raids would imply, the probe into the case is still ongoing. One can only hope that this time round it reaches its logical conclusion.

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