M A I N   N E W S

Srinagar defence land scam
CBI books 3 estate officials, conducts raids in five cities
Syed Ali Ahmed, Majid Jahangir & Varun Suthra/TNS

New Delhi/Srinagar/ Jammu, May 11
The CBI on Friday registered cases of cheating and corruption against three Defence Estate officials and conducted simultaneous searches in Srinagar, Jammu, Ambala, Delhi and Patna in connection with the alleged irregularities in the sale of military land near the high-security Srinagar airport.

An agency official said the cases were registered against three officials — Ajay Chaudhary, the then Defence Estate Officer and Vijay Kumar, SDEO. The CBI has not disclosed the name of the third official.

“We have registered a case under various sections of the J&K Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 420 (cheating) of the Ranbir Penal Code,” said a CBI spokesperson.

The agency had registered a Preliminary Enquiry (PE) into the matter last year after allegations surfaced that a huge chunk of land belonging to the Defence Ministry near a sensitive zone in Srinagar was suspected to have been taken over by private persons in connivance with officials of the state Revenue Department and Directorate General of Defence Estates (DGDE).

During its investigation, the agency found that No-objection Certificates (NoCs) were granted to private persons for this prime and strategic piece of land arbitrarily.

The agency had also conducted an inquiry into the records of the DGDE and the Revenue Department, following a request from the Defence Ministry to probe the sanction of the NoCs.

Last year, Defence Minister AK Antony had also accepted in Parliament that prima-facie there had been irregularities in issuing NoCs. During a preliminary probe by the Defence Ministry, it was revealed that over 70 NoCs were issued by the Defence Estates Department in the last four years. These were issued to private parties to buy over 200 acres of land near high-security military installations in Srinagar.

“On the basis of these illegally issued NoCs, some private parties fraudulently managed to execute the sale deeds of the defence land. Some of these persons approached the Budgam DC and court seeking compensation on the basis of such sale deeds,” the agency spokesman said.

CBI sleuths are scrutinising documents recovered from the office of the DGDE, Srinagar Circle, during the raid.

A CBI team from Delhi and Chandigarh raided Ajay Chaudhary’s house in the morning and continued search till evening. Later, they took away Chaudhary in a vehicle, but there has been no official confirmation of his arrest or detention. Chaudhary was suspended following his alleged involvement in the Srinagar scam.

In Jammu, a CBI team from Delhi raided the house of an official of Defence Estates Department at Janipur and seized his bank accounts. A 10-member team searched the house of Vijay Kumar at Lakkarmandi in Janipur. Kumar is posted in Rajouri. Till the filing of the report, Vijay was neither detained nor arrested.





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