Jammu/New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is conducting searches at nine locations in Jammu and Kashmir, including premises of former state Minister Choudhary Lal Singh’s wife Kamta Singh, in a case of illegal encroachment of forest land in Kathua district, an official said on Tuesday.
On June 25, the CBI had registered a preliminary enquiry (PE) to probe the land encroachment allegations.
The agency said it found the existence of prima facie material to move ahead with formal registration of a case, known as a Regular Case or FIR, to start an investigation.
A CBI spokesperson said in Delhi: “Multiple CBI teams are conducting searches at nine locations, three in Jammu and six in Kathua, including at RB Educational Trust office, the residence of its chairperson Kamta Singh and other accused.”
The official said that the agency also carried out searches at the premises of Ajay Singh Jamwal, then District Collector of Kathua; Avtar Singh, then Tehsildar of Marheen area; Desh Raj, then Naib Tehsildar, Ramphal, then Girdawar; and Sudesh Kumar, then Patwari.
The official said that the CBI had registered a case against RB Educational Trust, (through its Chairperson Kamta), above-mentioned officials, and unknown persons on the charges of facilitating possession of land by the Trust much beyond the permissible limit and submission of a false affidavit in Trust’s support, thereby causing loss to the exchequer.
According to a CBI official, RB Educational Trust continues to be in possession of huge tracts of land in gross violation of the ceiling prescribed under the J&K Agrarian Reforms Act, 1976.
It was also alleged that an affidavit was filed in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court on June 6, 2015 in which false information was submitted by public servants serving in Kathua.
The official said the writ petition was filed in Jammu so as to favour the RB Educational Trust, a family trust of former Member of Parliament Choudhary Lal Singh.
The official said that in lieu of illegal consideration, the Revenue and Forest department officials in Kathua allowed the sale and purchase of government/public/forest land by certain persons on the basis of false certificates that such land falls under the exempted category as per law.
The official said that such encroachment is still continuing and vast tracts of state land is in illegal possession of encroachers due to the connivance of Revenue officials in Kathua.
Choudhary Lal SIngh had quit the BJP following a row over rape-murder of an 8-year-old girl in Kathua in 2018.