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CBI searches Srinagar businessman’s premises in Roshni land scam case

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New Delhi: The CBI on Sunday conducted searches at the premises of prominent businessman Showkat Chaudhary in Srinagar after registering a case against him and others over the Roshni land allocation scam, officials said.

On June 15, the CBI had registered a fresh case against Chaudhary and retired IAS officers Mehboob Iqbal (then Kashmir divisional commissioner) and Sheikh Ejaz Iqbal (then Srinagar deputy commissioner), they said.

The CBI has also named in the FIR some other retired officers — Mohammad Afzal Bhat from Kashmir Administrative Service; the then Kashmir Additional Commissioner Mushtaq Ahmad Malik (also Assistant Commissioner of Revenue, Srinagar); Mohammed Akram Khan, the then Tehsildar (Nazool); and Sheikh Muneer Akhtar, the then Tehsildar of Srinagar.

Chaudhary, the owner of Hattrick Food Industries at Choudhary Bagh in Zakura, was part of a delegation of businessmen from Jammu and Kashmir that called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April this year.

The CBI has alleged that Chaudhary was declared unauthorised occupant of a plot under the Roshni Act and was given the ownership of eight marlas of land for Rs 14.40 lakh in violation of provisions of the Act.

It is alleged that a land measuring four kanals in the Estate Nursing Garh, Tehsil Srinagar was leased out to one Mehboob Beigh and Mumtaaz Afzal Beigh in 1977 by the Jammu and Kashmir government and the lease agreement was coming to an end in 2020. But they had handed over eight marlas out of total four kanals of land to Chaudhary by virtue of irrevocable Power of Attorney in 2001.

“Chaudhary, the Power of Attorney holder later applied for conferment of ownership rights under the Roshni Act vide application dated February 24, 2004,” according to the FIR.

The then Deputy Commissioner of Srinagar, in a letter addressed to the Divisional Commissioner on October 08, 2004, mentioned that the case cannot be considered for ownership rights as the land in question was within 50 feet from the centre of an important road.

A Price Fixation Committee (PFC), in its meeting on March 30, 2005, recommended the case of the applicant to the extent that the land was not required for road widening and was not hit by the provisions of the Ribbon Development Act.

Another Price Fixation Committee, in its meeting held on July 11, 2007 under the chairmanship of then Kashmir Divisional Commissioner Mehboob Iqbal and other members, discussed the issue and decided to hand over the ownership of the land to Chaudhary.

A rate of Rs 60 lakh per kanal was adopted and the applicant was considered as unauthorised occupant under the Jammu and Kashmir State Lands Rule 2007. The applicant had to pay 60 percent of the adopted rate for land measuring eight marlas which came to about Rs 14.40 lakh, the FIR alleged.

The FIR alleged that Chaudhary was considered as an unauthorised occupant under the Roshni Act despite the fact that the original lease was in the name of Mehboob Beigh and Mumtaaz Afzal Beigh.

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