• Anti-Corruption Bureau sleuths seized assets worth crores from two minor government officers

SRINAGAR: Imagine minor officers driving fancy cars, owning plush bungalows and possessing several kilos of gold and silver!

This is not a Bollywood masala flick, but a reality in strife-torn Kashmir. Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has seized movable and immovable properties worth crores from two minor government officers in Jammu and Kashmir.

ACB raided properties of Pranav Gandotra, Kerosene Oil Inspector, Jammu Rural, and unearthed vast properties acquired allegedly from ill-gotten money. Anti-Corruption Bureau attached lavish residential house worth Rs 14,823,502, seized 4.3-kilogramme gold ornaments and 11.3-kilogramme silver articles worth Rs 13,538,560. The total value of the properties seized and attached is valued at Rs 28,362,062.

“On prima facie establishment of criminal misconduct, a case was registered, and searches were conducted, which led to the recovery and seizure of immovable, movable property, gold and silver ornaments. The recovered property is well beyond his known source of income, raised by indulging in corrupt and illegal practices and misappropriating funds allotted by the government under various schemes for poor”, said an ACB spokesman.

ACB officials said that they found during the investigation that the accused raised movable and immovable properties in the name of his family members as well. “The property includes luxurious household items, costly electronics gadgets, and luxurious vehicles. The investigation further revealed that the accused raised assets by corrupt practices and dishonest means during his service career as a public servant,” said the spokesman

In another operation, ACB raided the house of Abdul Majeed Bhat, the then Assistant Regional Transport Officer (ARTO) Shopian, and unearthed huge assets disproportionate to his known source of income.

“Misusing his official position, he has issued illegal driving licenses, illegal registrations, fraud voucher payments, etc. He acquired huge assets, both movable and immovable, by investing proceeds of his ill-gotten money in such properties,” said the spokesman

The property recovered included two houses at Srinagar, a factory making empty boxes for apples, a high-end restaurant and vehicles worth lakhs. “The official parked his ill-gotten money in the form of FDRs in the name of his children,” he said

ACB said that during the execution of the search warrant, Rs 3,413,300 in cash and Rs 99,000 in demonetised currency, golden ornaments weighing 548 grammes, 13 gold coins, licensed pistol, and other relevant documents were seized.

“There were apprehensions that the accused may dispose of these assets raised from proceeds of ill-gotten money by indulging in corrupt and illegal practices and as such provisions of section 8-B of Prevention of Corruption Act by Anti-Corruption Bureau have been invoked,” the spokesman said.

Ishfaq Ul Hassan

An accredited journalist with 22 years of professional experience, Ishfaq-Ul-Hassan has worked as a reporter based in Kashmir for two decades. He has covered various beats including militancy, politics, defence, minorities, social issues, religious groups and women issues in Kashmir. He had previously worked as Special Correspondent in Jammu and Kashmir for DNA (Daily News and Analysis) Newspaper for 13 years. Ishfaq is also associated with the New Delhi- based television company `Asia Pacific Communication Associates’ which produced the famous series “Subah-Bakhar-Kashmir” for satellite Kashmir channel of Doordarshan. In 2004, he was awarded the Charkha-Sanjoy Ghosh Fellowship for Peace and Development for his research on families divided across the LOC in Kashmir.

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