Explained: The modus operandi of fake gun license racket – THE WEEK


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The fake gun license racket, spanning four states, entailed the beneficiary to first procure a gun license from Jammu and Kashmir by showing himself as an Army personnel and then get the arms from Madhya Pradesh.

The gang operated undetected for years until the Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) of Rajasthan stumbled on the racket in 2017.

Later, Madhya Pradesh ATS also initiated investigations into the racket that lasted for four months.

Investigations found that more than two lakh licenses were issued in six years between 2012 to 2018 with the connivance of officials of the State (Gun) License Authority in J&K.

The modus operandi adopted by the beneficiary to procure a gun license in J&K required producing a forged letter of a commanding officer of the Army with a photo-shopped picture of the beneficiary in Army uniform and a minimum of Rs 3 three lakh as bribe to officials of the State (Gun) License Authority in J&K.

Most of the two lakh licenses issued by State (Gun) License Authority in J&K were found to be fake by ATS in MP and Rajasthan. The fake licenses were also procured by the residents of Punjab.

According to sources, the fake licenses spurred the growth of criminals working underground.

In 2008, when Rajasthan introduced stringent laws, including background checks, procuring gun licenses became harder.

When the racket came to fore in 2018, the J&K government asked the State Vigilance Organisation (SVO) to probe the matter. The SVO registered two separate FIRs in Kashmir and Jammu region. The SVO found that involvement of officials at district level, including senior officers in Baramulla, Kupwara, Kathua, Ramban, Udhampur and Jammu.

Given the nature and scale of the racket, the J&K government agreed to allow the CBI investigation into the racket in August 2018.

The CBI was allowed to probe the case after J&K government accorded consent to the extension of "powers and jurisdiction of the members of Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) in the J&K, to investigate and inquire into the cases related to issuance of arms licenses."

The CBI has been investigating the case vigorously.

On July 25, the CBI raided 40 locations across Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi, including the residence of senior J&K IAS officer Shahid Iqbal Choudhary in Srinagar, in connection with the fake arms license racket.

The raids took place in Srinagar, Udhampur, Rajouri, Anantnag and Baramulla.

Choudhury is currently Secretary (Tribal Affairs) and CEO Mission Youth, J&K. He previously served as the deputy commissioner of Srinagar, Kathua, Reasi, Rajouriand Udhampur districts. During his stint as DC in these districts, he allegedly issued thousands of licenses, under fake names, to people in other states and UTs.

The CBI is also probing eight former deputy commissioners in connection with the case.

Last year, two IAS officers, including Rajiv Ranjan, were arrested by the CBI. Ranjan and Itrat Hussain Rafiqui, during their tenures as Deputy Commissioner of Kupwara district, allegedly issued several such fake licences.

In February last year, the Central agency also arrested a person for his involvement in various financial transactions with other co-accused, including public servants.

The scam was first discovered by ATS Rajasthan in 2017, after Ranjan's brother and others were found to be working as middlemen for gun dealers.

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