Gulmarg land scam: Second charge sheet filed against Advisor Baseer Khan, others

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Srinagar: After seven years, a second charge sheet has been filed in the thirteen-year-old Gulmarg land scam in which Baseer Khan, the advisor to the Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor G.C. Murmu, is an accused. 

The charge sheet filed in the court accuses officials and ten beneficiaries of a criminal conspiracy to profit from the transfer of ownership rights of state-owned land in Gulmarg in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district. The multi-crore case involves the transfer of prime land to hoteliers in the tourist resort in 2008, when Mr. Khan was the Deputy Commissioner in the Baramulla district. 

The special judge (anti-corruption) of north Kashmir’s Baramulla, Bandipora and Kupwara districts, Naseer Ahmad Dar has directed the Anti Corruption Body to file a supplementary charge sheet by 10 October, this year, the Hindustan Times reported. The report further added: “The accused officials allegedly abused their positions and the Lands (vesting of ownership to the occupants) Act 2001 or Roshni Act.”

The scam was unearthed in 2009; in March, the State Vigilance Organisation (now Anti-Corruption Body) had registered a case (FIR No. 08/2009 P/S VOK) against twenty accused. Of the twenty persons besides Mr. Khan that are involved in the scam, seven are or were government officials including then Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Mehboob Iqbal. The first charge sheet was filed in 2013 by the Jammu and Kashmir State Vigilance Organization in the scam. 

Mr. Khan was also arrested by the Kashmir Vigilance Organisation under the Prevention of Corruption Act on 23 September 2013, for “willfully” ignoring the information pertaining to the case only to be released by the anti-corruption court, Srinagar, on bail the same day.

In March 2013, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court directed the state government to relieve Mr. Khan from the post as “a person who has been facing serious charges of corruption could not be permitted to remain posted in the capital city.” 

However, the state government removed him from the post and appointed him as the director of panchayats in Jammu and Kashmir’s department of rural development and panchayati raj.

In July 2016, the then chief minister Mehbooba Mufti appointed him as divisional commissioner Kashmir. And he was scheduled to retire on 30 June 2019 but was given a one-year extension of service just months before the abrogation of J-K’s semi-autonomous status last August.

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