CBI quizzes former J-K minister in land encroachment case

The CBI has quizzed former Jammu and Kashmir minister Lal Singh in connection with its probe into encroachment on a huge tract of government land, officials said on Wednesday.

Singh, when contacted, declined to comment.

The minister was called for questioning recently in connection with the probe in the land grab case, they said, adding that he is likely to be called again.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered the case against R B Educational Trust through its chairperson Singh and his wife Kanta Andotra, former deputy commissioner of Kathua Ajay Singh Jamwal and former tehsildar of Marheen Avatar Singh.

Besides them, then Naib Tehsildar Chann Rorian (Marheen Tehsil) Des Raj, then Girdawar Ram Pal, then Patwari Sudesh Kumar and other unidentified persons have been booked.

The trust runs a school, B.Ed (Bachelor of Education) and nursing colleges on the land, the officials said.

The CBI had in September last year conducted searches at the premises of the educational trust, its chairperson and residential premises of other accused in 10 locations, including Jammu and Kathua, which had led to the recovery of documents related to movable and immovable property, etc.

The probe agency had in June 2020 registered a preliminary enquiry (PE) on the allegations of encroachment on a huge tract of public/government/forest land in Kathua by certain persons in violation of the Jammu and Kashmir Agrarian Reforms Act in connivance with revenue and forest officials, the CBI had said in a statement issued earlier.

“It was further alleged that the accused were involved in the conspiracy with the said educational trust through its chairperson to allow the trust to retain the land beyond the permissible ceiling limit of 100 standard kanal fixed in the Agrarian Reforms Act by deliberately giving the wrong exemption of 32 kanals of grazing land as per said Act and showing the land as ‘orchard’ which was not an orchard as per revenue record,” it said.

It was also alleged that the educational trust, in connivance with the other accused, got done wrong calculation of standard kanal of the land measuring 316 Kanal and 17 Marlas to escape the ceiling imposed by the J&K Agrarian Reforms Act, the statement said. Kanal and Marlas are traditional land measurement units.

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