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ED Conducts Raid at Former J&K Minister Choudhary Lal Singh’s Residence

October 18, 2023
chaudhary lal singh

The searches are part of an ongoing money laundering investigation into the educational trust. Notably, these actions occur three years after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered a case against the R B Education Trust for exceeding the legally permitted land limit, as set by the Jammu and Kashmir Government under the J&K Agrarian Reforms Act, 1976.

The CBI had earlier registered a case against several retired and serving revenue officials accused of assisting the Trust in acquiring excess land in violation of the Agrarian Reforms Act. Among the accused were former Kathua deputy commissioner Ajay Singh Jamwal (now retired), former tehsildar Marheen, Avtar Singh, naib tehsildar Dheeraj Kumar, Girdwar Ram Pal, and patwari Sudesh Kumar.

Prior CBI searches at the residences of the accused had resulted in the recovery of documents related to their property, both movable and immovable.

The CBI’s investigation had its origins in a preliminary inquiry initiated by the agency in June 2020, based on ‘source information’ about the encroachment of public, government, and forest land in Kathua district. These encroachments were allegedly facilitated by unscrupulous elements, in collusion with revenue and forest officials, in violation of the J&K Agrarian Reforms Act, 1976.

In October 2021, the CBI filed charges against the accused revenue officials, alleging their involvement in a conspiracy with the R B Educational Trust and Kanta Andotra to retain land beyond the permissible limit. The revenue officials, in collaboration with the Trust, falsely represented the land as 316 kanals and 17 marlas (39.52 acres), while the actual spot verification recorded it as 152 kanals and 1 marla and 110.13 kanals.

In an effort to allow the R B Educational Trust to retain more than 100 kanals, the revenue officials allegedly designated 74.02 kanals as an orchard and 32 kanals as ‘gha charai’ (grazing land), both exceeding the ceiling imposed by the Agrarian Reforms Act. However, there was no official revenue entry confirming the existence of an orchard, and grazing land, considered common land, could not be individually purchased or sold.

Choudhary Lal Singh, formerly elected as an MLA on a BJP mandate from Basohli in the 2014 elections, later became a cabinet minister in the PDP-BJP coalition government. However, he and another party minister, Chander Prakash Ganga, resigned from the coalition cabinet due to controversy surrounding their support for a CBI inquiry into the gang-rape and murder of an eight-year-old Bakarwal girl in 2018, as demanded by the family members and relatives of the accused.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Choudhary Lal Singh contested as the nominee of the newly formed Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan in the Udhampur-Kathua parliamentary constituency but lost his security deposit.

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