Kashmir violence
Members of the media take pictures of seized rifles during a news conference by the Indian army after a gun battle, in Srinagar on March 25, 2009. [Representational image]REUTERS/Fayaz Kabli

Following the revelation of the J&K connection to the gun license scam in Rajasthan, the Jammu and Kashmir government has ordered all issued licenses to be revoked within 15 days.

The order, issued to the District Magistrate, asks him to identify the illegally issued licenses, revoke them and ensure that all firearms are deposited at the nearest police station. The authorities have also suspended the issue of new licenses till further notice.

The J&K government has identified the districts of Kupwara Ganderbal, Leh, Rajouri, Ramban, Reasi and Udhampur as key areas where licenses need to be revoked, but has issued a state-wide order nonetheless.

Last year, the Rajasthan Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) uncovered the largest license scam in the country after a criminal was found to be carrying a fake license by the police. The ATS stepped in, and after a probe discovered that the scam originated in J&K.

Although the licenses were meant mainly for residents and security personnel in the state, a large number were issued to outsiders. The Rajasthan ATS has also linked a dozen officials in the J&K Home Department to the scam and has hauled them in for questioning.

Gun battle in Kashmir
People are seen through a bullet hole in a window of a damaged house after a gun battle between suspected militants and Indian security forces at Turkewangam village in Kashmir's Shopian district, May 3, 2018.REUTERS/Danish Ismail

The police and ATS have also arrested 54 people so far in connection with the scam and had earlier written to the government to stop issuing licenses out of fear for terrorist activities in the state.

Here is what, Vikas Kumar, DIG Rajasthan ATS said:

We have conducted a thorough investigation in the matter. We took data from MHA and identified key districts where the fake gun licenses were being issued. The ATS seized a bulk of 2000 licenses, many of them found to be fake or forged."

"The matter is still under investigation. The issue was red flagged by anti-terror squad of Rajasthan in DGP conference held in New Delhi where a detailed presentation was given on how this scam was going on," he added.

To facilitate the smooth process, the Rajasthan ATS has sent a senior team of officers to Srinagar. There was also a detailed discussion with the Additional Chief Secretary on this matter just before the imposition of Governor's Rule.

The investigation found that the scammers were forging documents and using morphed images of armed forces and Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) to issue licenses to individuals with no military or paramilitary status.