Press Trust of India

Major land scam unearthed in Jammu, five FIRs registered

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Jammu: The Anti-Corruption Bureau on Friday claimed to have unearthed a major scam involving more than 28 acres of land usurped by the land mafia here in connivance with officials, a senior police officer said.

Five FIRs have been registered against the accused, including government officials, and raids are underway at the premises of 16 people involved in the scam, Deputy Inspector General of ACB, Jammu, Vikas Gupta told reporters here.

Gupta, who was flanked by senior officers including Senior Superintendent of Police, ACB (central) Surinder Kumar Sharma, said a number of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) refugees, who were allotted some of the land in 1955-56 for their settlement, were deputed by the conspirators.

Sharma, who is leading the investigation in the case, said 225 kanals of custodian land in Asarwan, Mishriwala and Bhalwal area of Jammu district has been found usurped by the land mafia in connivance with the officials of the Custodian, Revenue and Police departments.

He said eight to 10 serving and retired revenue officials, including tehsildars, naib-tehsildars and Patwaris, have been named so far in the FIRs.

Inputs were received that custodian land in thousands of kanals had been grabbed by the land mafia and gangsters after tampering with the revenue records and the land was sold to various people, he said.

Sharma said a formal verification was conducted and it was found that in furtherance of the criminal conspiracy, FORM 3-A (Form Alf) along with power of attorneys (POAS) were obtained from various PoK refugees, alluring them of additional lands and providing them instant money ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 50,000 by the conduits of land grabbers.

Thereafter, insertions or additions regarding additional chunks of custodian lands were made in the revenue records by the officials of the revenue and custodian department.

They did this by abusing their official positions and these lands were sold by the conduits and attorney holders to various people, including their own gang leaders and members, by resorting to fraudulent means, thereby causing a huge loss to the government, he said.

Owing to the establishment of, prima facie, nexus of the criminal elements, land grabbers and the Revenue/Custodian officers/officials in alienation of Custodian land through fraudulent means, ACB has registered five formal case FIRs for investigation under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery and fraud, the SSP said.

During the course of the investigation, after obtaining the search warrants from the Special Judge Anti-Corruption Jammu, search teams comprising ACB officers, independent witnesses, and magistrates were dispatched to 16 locations throughout Jammu and its adjoining areas, Sharma said, adding the searches were still going on when last reports were received.

In addition to the five FIRs, verification is still in progress to unearth the remaining usurped custodian land, he said.

The SSP said no one has been arrested so far.

Press Trust of India

Press Trust of India is lead news agency of India

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