J&K Arms License Case: ED Attaches Assets Of Babus, Arms Dealers

New Delhi- Assets worth Rs 4.69 crore have been attached under the anti-money laundering law in a case related to issuance of alleged illegal arms licenses in Jammu and Kashmir between 2012 and 2016, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said on Saturday.

A provisional order under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) has been issued for attaching bank deposits, plots, flats and residential houses, it said in a statement.

After carrying out raids against an IAS officer, some Kashmir Administrative Service (KAS) officers and government officials, and arms dealers last month, the agency had said it seized "incriminating" documents that allegedly indicate transactions between weapon dealers and bureaucrats in issuance of illegal arms licenses in Jammu and Kashmir between 2012 and 2016.

"Government functionaries of J&K in connivance with many arms dealers, brokers of J&K have brazenly flouted the norms, procedure and rules for issuing arms licenses in lieu of monetary considerations by abuse of their official position as public servants and generated huge proceeds of crime," the statement said.

The ED alleged that government officials used to take "commission" from arms dealers and brokers in their own bank accounts and also in the accounts of their family members for getting arms licenses issued as well as for renewals of defence personnel licenses.

Searches were conducted by the ED at 11 locations including residential premises of Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Rajeev Ranjan (former DC, Kupwara), KAS officers Itrat Hussain (former DC, Kupwara) and Ravinder Kumar Bhatt (former ADC, Kupwara) and former judicial clerks at the arms section of the office of the deputy commissioner (DC), Kupwara, Tariq Ather and Gajan Singh.

The residential premises of six arms dealers of Jammu and Kashmir including Amarnath Bhargava (Varun Armoury), his brother Mukesh Bhargava (Bhargava Gun House), Surjeet Singh (Deshmesh Armoury), Mohinder Kotwal (Mohinder Kotwal Arms and Ammunition), Manohar Singh (Swaran Arms and Ammunition) and Devi Dayal Khajuria (Khajuria Arms) were also searched.

Cash and gold jewellery worth over Rs 2.50 crore was seized apart from property documents.

"Tentative proceeds of crime are expected to be to the tune of Rs 40 crore," the ED said.

The criminal case of money laundering stems from an August 2018 FIR of the CBI (special crime branch, Chandigarh) where it was alleged that bulk issuance of arms licenses has taken place in Jammu and Kashmir between 2012-2016.

About 2.78 lakh arms licenses were issued to various defence and paramilitary personnel by "flouting" the prescribed guidelines and due procedure in lieu of "illicit" monetary consideration which was paid to government officers/ officials through arms dealers/ brokers and proceeds of crime were generated, the ED said.

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