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CBI probe recommended in JK gun license racket

Press Trust of India

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Jaipur, July 22: The Rajasthan Police has recommended a CBI probe in the gun-licensing racket after role of public officials, especially some IAS officers from Jammu and Kashmir, came to the fore during investigations carried out by the Anti-Terror Squad (ATS), officials said.

Director General of Rajasthan Police O P Galhotra has written to the state’s home department suggesting “transfer of the case” to the CBI without any further delay, they said.

The state police chief said the case pertains to the issuance of arms licenses in “fraudulent manner by various authorities in Jammu and Kashmir”.

 

“In view of the large scale of the scam, involvement of public officials of Jammu and Kashmir and the implication on the national security, the police headquarters had recommended in December 2017 that the case need to be transferred to the CBI for comprehensive investigation.

“The decision of the government in this regard is still awaited,” Galhotra said, while drawing attention towards the recent deliberations with the Rajasthan home minister to seek early transfer of the case to the CBI.

On July 20, the case was sent to Chief Minister VasundharaRaje’s office to refer the file to Department of Personnel and Training, the nodal ministry for the CBI, the officials said.

The ATS probe so far has indicated involvement of some IAS officers of the Jammu and Kashmir cadre in issuance of arms licenses on forged documents.

According to the police probe, around 4.29 lakh arms licences have been issued in the last one decade from various districts of the militancy-hit state.

Taking cognisance of the ATS’ requests, pending since last year, the Jammu and Kashmir government issued a notification on July 12 asking divisional commissioners and deputy commissioners to submit a detailed report on arms licences issued last year.

The deputy commissioners of all districts have been barred from issuing any further arms licences till further orders, it said.

According to ATS officials, 1,32,321 of the 1,43,013 licences in Jammu region’s Doda, Ramban and Udhampur districts were issued to those residing outside the state. The figure for the entire state is 4,29,301, of which just over 10 per cent were issued to residents in the state.

The brother of a senior IAS officer from Jammu and Kashmir was arrested by the ATS in Gurugram, Haryana, after it was alleged that he had received Rs 40 lakh from the arms lobby, they said.

The probe had also brought over 3,000 gun licenses that had been issued in the name of purported army personnel who had served in Jammu and Kashmir under the scanner of ATS who had asked the army to verify the names following suspected involvement of a gang to procure them illegally, they said.

The case dates back to November last year when the Rajasthan police’s ATS carried out an operation, codenamed “Jubaida”, and arrested 52 people for their alleged involvement in getting gun licenses issued from various districts of Jammu and Kashmir under suspicious circumstances. The licenses included 3,367 in the name of purported army personnel, the officials said.

Letters were written in this connection to the Army, Indian Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, seven para-military forces including the Border Security Force(BSF) and the Central Reserve Police Force(CRPF), National Cadet Corps (NCC), Railway Protection Force(RPF) and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).

While most of them have replied, a comprehensive response from the army was still awaited, notwithstanding the reminders, the officials said.

As far as other organisations are concerned, the Navy informed the police that out of the list of 26 personnel submitted, only 14 cases were genuine, the officials said, adding this will help to find out how the remaining 12 people allegedly posing themselves as Navy personnel got the gun license from J and K.

The IAF was provided with a list of 39 people by the ATS out of which the credentials of only 17 were found to be correct. Similarly, of the 548 BSF personnel, records for 471 were received out of which cases of only 336 personnel were found correct, the officials said.

The CRPF list stood at 424 out of which 237 were found correct, the officials said, adding, among other forces, only 154 out of 387 were found correct for the Central Industrial Security Force(CISF), SeemaSashtraBal(SSB), Indo-Tibetan Border Police(ITBP), National Security Guards(NSG), Coast Guard, Railway Protection Force(RPF), National Cadet Corps(NCC) and the NDRF.


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3 militants killed in Budgam encounter

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Srinagar, Jan 21: Three militant of Hizbul Mujahideen outfit were killed in an encounter at Hapatnar woods in Charar-e-Shareef area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district on Monday.

News agency Global News Service quoted a senior police officer saying that a joint team of Army’s 53 RR, SOG and CRPF launched a cordon-and-search operation in forest area of Hapatnar early Monday morning following “credible inputs” about the presence of some militants.

As the joint team of forces intensified the combing operation, the militants hiding in the area opened fire triggering off a gunfight which continued intermittently till late in the evening.

 

During the course of gunfight, three militants belonged to Hizbul Mujahideen outfit were killed, the officer said.

The operation was prolonged due to the tough terrain amid inclement weather conditions, he added.”So far one body has been recovered along with arms and ammunition. The other two bodies which are lying inside the hideout are yet to be retrieved,” the officer said.

“The identity of the slain is being ascertained,” the officer said.

The officer said that the government forces have also blasted the hideout of the militants in the mountainous area, covered under plenty of snow.

Meanwhile, sources identified one among the slain Shahid Baba of Drabgam, Pulwama. (With inputs from GNS)

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Snow, rains persist: Land, air traffic disrupted

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Srinagar, Jan 21: Although not as severe as predicted, fresh snowfall and rains were Monday lashed Kashmir bringing some respite to the people from the cold wave.
The plains of Kashmir witnessed moderate rainfall from early hours of Monday, while there were reports of snowfall in higher reaches of the valley, officials said here.
The MeT Office has forecast widespread rain and snow over the state with heavy falls at isolated places till Tuesday.
Meanwhile, traffic on the 300-km long Srinagar-Jammu highway was halted because of heavy snowfall on the stretch.
“Today no movement of vehicular traffic on Jammu Srinagar NHW from Jammu towards Srinagar and vice versa as road blocked due to snow accumulation at Nowgam-Jawahar Tunnel-Qazigund Sector and still snowing,” J&K Traffic Police tweeted Monday morning.
Bad weather conditions also disrupted operations at the Srinagar International Airport here, leading to the cancellation of four flights, officials said.
“Due to the inclement weather, four of the 27 flights to and fro Srinagar were cancelled on Monday,” an official of the Airport Authority of India.
Another 11 flights got delayed due to poor visibility and intermittent rainfall since Monday morning, he said.
The minimum temperature in Srinagar on Sunday settled at minus 0.3 degree Celsius, same as previous night, a MET official said.
He said Qazigund, the gateway town to the valley, in south Kashmir recorded a low of 0.6 degree Celsius, while the nearby Kokernag town registered a low of minus 0.3 degrees Celsius Sunday night.
The mercury in Kupwara town in north Kashmir settled at a low of minus 0.6 degree Celsius. Gulmarg ski-resort in north Kashmir recorded a low of minus 4 degrees Celsius Sunday night, while Pahalgam tourist resort, in south Kashmir, recorded a low of 0.2 degrees Celsius, the official said.
He said Leh, in the frontier Ladakh region, recorded a low of minus 5.6 degrees Celsius, while the mercury in Kargil registered a low of minus 14.0 degrees Celsius. Kargil was the coldest recorded place in Jammu and Kashmir, colder than even Drass town which recorded a low of minus 6.8 degrees Celsius.
Kashmir is currently under the grip of ‘Chillai Kalan’, the 40-day harshest period of winter when the chances of snowfall are maximum and the temperature drops considerably.
‘Chillai Kalan’ ends on January 31, but the cold wave continues even after that in Kashmir. The 40-day period is followed by a 20-day long ‘Chillai Khurd’ (small cold) and a 10-day long ‘Chillai Bachha’ (baby cold).

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Lack of funds halts vital JK tourism projects

Bisma Bhat

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Srinagar, Jan 21: The Governor-led administration is mulling to start new projects to boost tourism in Kashmir even as several old ones have been left midway due to want of funds.

In December last year, the administration ordered the constitution of an official panel for identification of new projects in tourism sector to be implemented under Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP).

Back in 2014, the Government of India, under Project/Infrastructure Development for Destination and Circuits (PIDDC), had sanctioned Rs 7593.88 lakh for development of basic tourism infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir through private investment, opening of new potential destinations and development of heritage, adventure, and pilgrim and eco-tourism.

 

However, the projects have been left incomplete as the Centre has, as per the latest official data, released only Rs 3504.80 lakh of the sanctioned amount against which the department shows 100 percent expenditure.

Now, due to the unavailability of funds, the PIDDC project is on standstill.

The project included development of Eidgah, face-lifting of Khankahi Moula, Development of Jamia Masjid Heritage Corridor, Renovation of Aali Masjid, Upgrading of Ziyarat Abdul Razaq Sahib at Hawal, Ziyarat Hazrat Balaad Rumi at Rajouri Kadal, Ziyarat Akhoon Sahib and TajBibi at Fateh Kadal, Ziyarat Hazrat Noor Shaha Sahib at Narwara, and Conservation of areas from Naagar Nagar to Watlab.

The tourist circuit from Naagar Nagar to Watlab, which was a key component of the project, still requires Rs 2312.90 lakh to be completed, official data shows.

Another main component of PIDDC project, construction of Trans Himalayan Culture Centre in Leh, too requires further Rs 1094.48 lakh for completion.

Similarly, development of Khiram Shrine in South Kashmir’s Bijbehara town also remains incomplete for want of funds.
Section Officer of Planning, Tourism Department, Sajad Ahmad, told The Kashmir Monitor that “65 per cent” of the work has been completed on Naagar Nagar to Watlab component of the project.

“We had to stop the work because the Centre did not release the funds,” he added.

Executive Engineer, JK Tourism, Abdul Qayoom Kirmani said they have asked the Government of India for the pending funds and also sent to them the proposal of the new projects.
“We have identified new Rs 100 crore new projects under PMDP-II, which comprises of nine circuits,” he said.

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