Jammu/New Delhi, Sep 15 (IANS) The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday launched search operations at nine locations in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) including the premises of former Minister Choudhary Lal Singh, in an ongoing investigation into a case of illegal encroachment and occupation of forest land in Kathua district.
On June 25, CBI had registered a preliminary enquiry (PE) to probe into allegations of land encroachment in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
During the PE, the agency tried to discover if prima facie material exists to move ahead with a formal registration of a case also known as a Regular Case or FIR to start investigation.
A CBI spokesperson in Delhi said, “Multiple CBI teams are conducting searches at nine locations — three in Jammu and six at Kathua, including at RB Education Trust office, residence of its chairperson Chaudhary Lal Singh and other accused.”
The official said that the CBI registered a case against RB Educational Trust, (through its Chairperson) and others including the then DC Kathua (J&K), the then Tehsildar, then Naib Tehsildar, the then Girdawar, the then Patwari and unknown persons on the allegations of having facilitated the trust in possessing land much beyond the ceiling limit and submission of false affidavit in support of the trust, causing loss to the State exchequer.
According to a CBI official the allegations in the complaint mentioned that the RB Educational Trust continues to be in possession of huge tracts of land in gross violation of cealing prescribed under J&K Agrarian Reforms Act 1976.
It was also alleged that an affidavit was filed before 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 a writ petition was filed in Jammu so as to favour the RB Educational Trust, a family trust of Chaudhary Lal Singh, who is also a former Member of Parliament.
The official said that in lieu of illegal gratification for consideration, Revenue and Forest department officials of Kathua have allowed sale/purchase of the government/public/forest land by the persons after recording false certificates that such land falls under exempted category as per J&K Agrarian Reforms Act.
The official said that such encroachment is still continuing and vast tracts of state land is in illegal possession of encroachers due to connivance of officials of revenue department in Kathua.Chaudhary Lal SIngh had quit BJP following a row over rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl in Kathua in 2018.