By Special Correspondent
Srinagar, July 18: Investigation into fake gun license racket in Udhampur has revealed sensational details about the involvement of the district’s former Deputy Commissioner Niraj Kumar in the scam.
As per sources, the state government has already registered an anti-corruption case against the IAS officer as more skeletons continue to tumble out of the closet.
Highly placed sources say that the IAS officer, with the local gun mafia and touts, violated all norms related to the gun licensing criteria.
As per law, the DM is the nodal officer for issuing gun licenses, but only after due diligence by police.
Sources said the investigation, carried out by Anti- Terror Squad (ATS) of Rajasthan Police, has revealed that the former Deputy Commissioner had relaxed the norms for issuing the gun license to the agents.
Instead of working on the licensing process in the office the accused IAS officer had prepared the list for issuing these licenses ‘illegally’ at his official residence.
As per investigators, all the paper work including the signing off on the final license was done away with from the DC’s office.
Investigators also believe that a huge amount of money had also exchanged hands between the agents, senior government officials over issuance of these licenses.
Sources say that once the IAS officer got a whiff of the impending scandal, he started resisting the request of those whom he was in league with for issuing these ‘illegal licenses’. “It is quite possible that the accused officer was honey trapped by touts and then blackmailed further to issue more licenses. We are also probing the possibility of involvement of some police officials in this scam,” a police officer told The Kashmir Monitor.
Last year objectionable pictures of Niraj Kumar, the then-Deputy Commissioner Udhampur, with women in a hotel room had gone viral. The government had then swung into action and attached Niraj to the office of Divisional Commissioner, Jammu.
Sources said the DC violated all the norms and even asked his subordinates to keep the matter hidden.
“Acquiring a gun license is too hectic as it follows various levels of verifications. But in this case the Deputy Commissioner who is a nodal officer for issuing gun license made it confined to just few steps by cutting down the verification part,” sources said.
As per the sources, the agents would forge the documents of a person to show him as an army official to avoid verifications.
“Army and military personnel can get arms licenses from any district they are posted in, on the recommendation of a letter from the Commanding Officer of their unit. These documents were then approved at official levels,” they said.
Last year Rajasthan police busted a racket in which fake gun license racket from Nagaland and Jammu and Kashmir were being abundantly used to ‘purchase’ arms from gun houses in many parts of Rajasthan, including Udaipur, Sikar and Jaipur, police said.
Around 40 licenses from Dimapur in Nagaland – suspected to be fake- were used to purchase guns from gun houses in Jaipur alone.
When contacted Commissioner Secretary General Administration Department (GAD), Hilal Ahmad Parray said that they haven’t received any sort of communication related to issue yet.
“Let me see and confirm it. But so far we have not been informed by any agency yet,” Parray said.
JK’s liability swells
Srinagar, Jan 17: Similar to previous years, Jammu and Kashmir has accrued a liability of over Rs 7,000 crore in the ongoing fiscal even as experts blame state’s political leadership for not finding a solution to the issue.
Official documents of the finance department reveal that the state is running a liability of Rs 7,531 crore so far this fiscal, a figure close to the annual build-up J&K witnesses every year.
The total liabilities for the state have now swelled up to over Rs 68,000 crore.“The three fiscal parameters–revenue deficit, fiscal deficit and outstanding liability–indicate the extent of overall fiscal balance in the finances of the state government during the specified period. The nature of deficit is an indicator of the prudence of budgetary policy of the state government. Another useful measure of the deficit-base in a state’s fiscal policy is the State’s Own Deficit (SOD),” the documents reveal.
Noted economist, Professor Nisar Ali said the state’s expenditure and revenue system has been “mismanaged”.“The power purchase has been an important factor for swelling liabilities. The GST has further increased the mismanagement between expenditure and tax revenue,” he said.
Prof Ali also blamed J&K’s political leadership for increasing liabilities.“The annual liabilities increase due to power purchases despite the state having huge hydro resources. The state’s leadership has failed to fight for the return of power projects.
“It also depends upon the government of India how it wants to find a solution to this problem,” he added.
Endorsing Prof Ali’s views, a senior official of the finance department said that little or no use of revenue generation avenues, increasing power purchases and bulging expenditure on salaries are the main contributors to the escalating liabilities of the state.“There is a steep rise in salary and pension bills, power deficit, rising interest liabilities, loan repayments, and deficit on account of non-tax revenue,” the official said.
Conducive atmosphere inevitable for dialogue: Farooq
Srinagar, Jan 17: Former Chief Minister and National Conference (NC) president, Dr Farooq Abdullah on Thursday said that the favourable atmosphere is inevitable for dialogue, which is the only way out to settle the issues.
Addressing party workers in Jammu, Dr Farooq said that the dialogue is the only way out to resolve the issues but there is a need of conducive atmosphere which is inevitable. He added that “under the shades of gun, no dialogue process is possible. We have to stop bullet culture for lasting peace in the region.”
“NC has also given priority to the people. When I became Chief Minister in 1996, I fought with many things as the school were shut, no bridge was there, no office was functioning as the people were frightened by the turmoil then, but I stood up to fight against the forces who were inimical to peace.”
About 35 percent reservation in other states, Dr Farooq said that the incumbent Chief Minister of Odissa, Naveen Patnayak has written to him, suggesting there should be reservation of 35 percentfor women in Jammu and Kashmir also. “We will implement the law, which will ensure 35 percent reservation to women in the State once getting into the power,” he said.
However, he said that it is not easy to take such decisions as when his government took a decision to make 50 percent reservation for girls in Medical College then some people knocked the door of Supreme Court to put halt over the decision.
Dr Farooq also appealed the party workers to work hard and ensure the win of NC leaders who will be contesting the elections.
Abundant snowfall in January makes Gulmarg the perfect winter-destination for tourists
Srinagar, Jan 17: Unlike last January, the abundant snowfall so far this month has attracted a lot of tourists to Gulmarg as the destination is brimming with over 90 per cent occupancy these days.
The valley has received at least four moderate to heavy snowfalls this year with an even stronger wet spell predicted from January 19 to 23.
Tourists from across the world are cherishing this and making their way to Gulmarg, whose slopes offer a perfect destination for skiing.
Speaking to The Kashmir Monitor, CEO Gulmarg Development Authority, Syed Hanief Balkhi said that most of the hotels are fully occupied as people are heading to Gulmarg to enjoy the charismatic scenery offered by the snow-covered hills.“Gulmarg is under 4-5 feet snow and is looking like a playground these days. Tourists from India and abroad enjoy skiing, snow cycling, ice skating, snow-sculptor activity, sledge-racing and other games here,” he said.
Apart from the hoteliers, the rush of the tourists, Balkhi said, has provided good workdays for sledge keepers, skating guides, local cab drivers and many others associated with tourism.
In 2018, as per the official figures, Gulmarg received 5.76 lakh tourists as compared to 5.69 lakh in the preceding year.
The tourism players also expressed satisfaction over the rush of tourists heading to the valley.
President Hotel and Restaurant Owners Federation, Wahid Malik said that snowfalls have pushed up the number of tourists visiting the valley.
“Gulmarg saw lesser arrival when winters begun, however, now the snow has ensured all the hotels and resorts are booked,” he said adding that Gulmarg hotels are running on 90 per cent occupancy so far this season.
Gulmarg is declared the ‘heartland of winter sports in India’ by the Winter Games Federation. This year too, Gulmarg Tourism Authority is going to organise winter sports carnival starting from the first week of February.
Additional Director Tourism Department, Nasir Khan said that Gulmarg is “rocking these days as it has received 34,712 and 35,022 tourists in the month of November and December”.
“We are going to organize the winter carnival from the next month to make the place more attractive,” he said.
He added that night market and cultural shows will also be arranged by the department.