Investigating the alleged sale of defence land worth crores to private individuals by the land mafia in J&K,the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday carried out raids at several places across the country and seized documents relating to the scam. This came a day after the agency registered a criminal case against a few persons,including defence officials.
The defence land in question is near the high-security Srinagar airport and in Budgam district of J&K. Raids were carried out in Jammu,Srinagar,Patna,Delhi and Chandigarh.
The raids followed a probe into the matter after the BJP last year wrote to Defence Minister A K Antony alleging illegal sale of nearly 200 acres of defence land by land mafia to private individuals in connivance with state government and Defence Estates officials. As the land sold was near the Indian Air Force station in Budgam and Armys Badami Bagh Cantonment in Srinagar,structure construction by private individuals posed a threat to vital military installations,the BJP had pointed out.
In November last year,the CBI registered a Preliminary Enquiry (PE) and during the six-month probe found evidences that No Objection Certificates (NOCs) were granted to private individuals. The CBI found that out of 70 NOCs issued by then Defence Estates Officer,13 were unauthorised and contained anomalies.
Antony last year informed Parliament that on receipt of complaint,a PE was conducted during which it was found that prima-facie there had been irregularities in issuance of NOCs which may have wider implications. The CBI will now start the process of identifying the real land beneficiaries in the instances.
The agency is also learnt to have looked into the records of the Directorate General of Defence Estates (DGDE) and the local revenue bodies.
The DGDE looks after the land for training,ranges,depots,airfields,quartering,camping and offices for military activities. As per records,the Ministry of Defence owns 17.53 lakh acre of land,out of which approximately 1.57 lakh acre is situated within the 62 notified cantonments and about 15.96 lakh acre is outside these cantonments.
A CBI official said,There was no provision to issue NOC by the office of DGDE for the purpose of sale or purchase of defence owned or occupied land. Moreover,as per the existing rules,defence land cannot be alienated to anyone without prior approval. On the basis of these unauthorisedly issued NOCs by DEO,Srinagar,private persons dishonestly and fraudulently managed to execute the sale deeds and attestation of mutation of the defence land.
The CBI has named Ajay Choudhary,a 1997-batch Defence Estates official,Vijay Kumar,then sub divisional officer in Srinagar and others in the FIR registered under the IPC and Prevention of Corruption Act. On Friday,the CBI searched Kumar’s house in the outskirts of Jammu and also examined his bank accounts.
In Patna,CBI officials searched the premises of Choudhary,who has been suspended. CBI spokesperson N Mishra said the investigating agency found some important documents including some property papers from his house.
Inputs from ENS,Patna