Srinagar, Mar 13: Under scanner, the state government is going to verify afresh the arms licences issued to people in the state.
The Anti-Terrorism Squad Rajasthan initiated the secret ‘Operation Zubeida’ in May last year to uncover the sale of illegal fire arms in the state.
Since then, the ATS Rajasthan has raided several places in various states including in Jammu and Kashmir and made various arrests in connection to “fake gun licence” racket.
“Rajasthan is a peaceful state. How so many gun licences have been issued in a sensitive security environment like Jammu and Kashmir is a matter of grave concern,” Additional Director General of the anti-terror cell, Umesh Mishra had said in December last year.
While the state Home Department has directed divisional commissioners of Kashmir and Jammu to hold fresh verification into licences issued between January 2017 to February 23, 2018, in eight districts of the state.
On March 6 this month, Principal Secretary Home wrote a letter to divisional commissioners of the state to verify arms licences in Kishtwar, Kupwara, Ganderbal, Leh, Rajouri, Ramban, Reasi, and Udhampur issued to locals, non-state subjects, and armed personnel. They have been asked to submit report within a month.
Army and other security personnel can get arms licences from any district in Jammu and Kashmir where they are posted in on the recommendation of a letter from the Commanding Officer of their unit. They don't need to get the local police to verify their address or a criminal verification from the local police stations like other ordinary citizens.
The letter says that according to a report of National Database for Arms Licences, the number of arms licences issued to some districts in the state has been “exceedingly large in numbers”.
“They require examination and verification as to whether the relevant provisions of the Arms Act, 1959 and the rules of 2016 have been followed by the licencing authority concerned, while issuing these arms licences,” the letter reads.
Jammu and Kashmir has issued second highest number of gun licences in the country. Uttar Pradesh tops the list of states with active gun licences 12.77 lakh people followed by Jammu and Kashmir where 3.69 lakh people possess arms licences.
The district magistrates of eight districts have been directed not to issue new arms licence till further orders.
The ATS Rajasthan had also sought the details of top officers posted in the J&K Home Department since 2001.
It had also sought the procedures and rules followed by the J&K Government for allotting arms licences and permits to the gun shop owners.
“People who had no relation with armed forces showed themselves as army personnel. A civilian takes a photo and then morphs with that of an ID of armed personnel,” Vikas Kumar of the ATS cell was quoted by the media in December last year.