Jammu and Kashmir police have filed a case under the Arms Act against a close aide of fugitive Amritpal Singh for illegally procuring a gun licence.
Varinder Singh had managed a gun licence from Kishtwar district in 2013 and renewed it every year from four different districts across Jammu and Kashmir.
Police said an FIR was filed at Kishtwar and investigations are underway. So far two of Amritpal Singh’s supporters, Varinder Singh and Talwinder Singh, have been found to have procured gun licences from Jammu and Kashmir.
While both gun licences were cancelled after Punjab Police wrote to the district magistrates of Kishtwar and Ramban, a major gun licence racket has emerged in Jammu and Kashmir.
Between 2012 and 2018, over 2.78 lakh illegal gun licences were issued by district magistrates, making it arguably India’s biggest arms licence scam.
The case was handed over to the CBI by then Jammu and Kashmir Governor NN Vohra. According to CBI investigations, district magistrates in connivance with arms dealers had issued illegal gun licences.
Varinder Singh had procured a gun licence through fake documents when he and his army unit 19 Sikh Regiment were deployed in Jammu and Kashmir.
According to the police, Varinder Singh was terminated from the army in 2015 but he continued to get his licence renewed in Jammu and Kashmir. Besides Kishtwar, district magistrates in Kathua, Reasi, Baramulla and Poonch had also renewed his gun licence, which explains how easily they were issued and renewed in the state.
The arms licence racket was first unearthed by ATS Rajasthan in 2017 after they found criminals with licenced weapons issued by bureaucrats in Jammu and Kashmir. The ATS Rajasthan also found over 3,000 licences were given in the name of army personnel based on fake documents.
While the PDP-BJP government in the state tried to shield the accused under the garb of a Vigilance probe, the then Governor NN Vohra handed over the case to CBI after the imposition of Governor’s rule in 2018.
In March 2020, CBI arrested an IAS officer who had issued thousands of licences during his tenure as the district magistrate of Kupwara.