Srinagar: The Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Thursday again raided the Assistant Regional Transport Office (ARTO), Kupwara, in north Kashmir in a corruption case pertaining to issuing of licenses in lieu of bribe.
The raid comes about two weeks after the ACB arrested Assistant Regional Transport Officer, Kupwara, Mukhtar Ahmad Sofi, Motor Vehicle Inspectors Khursheed Ahmad Kanna and Abdul Hamid Bhat, besides a broker Bilal Ahmad Sheikh.
Official sources said the sleuths of ACB raided the officer of ARTO, Kupwara, on Thursday. “The sleuths conducted thorough investigation of the documents at the office,” they said, adding incriminating material has allegedly been recovered from the office.
Giving details of the case, they said a surprise check was conducted on August 25 by ABC following allegation that ARTO Kupwara has planted one person, identified as Bilal Ahmad Sheikh, to run all the affairs of his office like Travel Test, Replacement of Driving licenses, Fitness, Learning licenses, Audit Approval, Registration and Print Card for collecting money by illegal means.
“The Joint Surprise Check was conducted at the site of driving test (Nagri Kupwara) in association with Executive Magistrate 1st Class Handwara. During Surprise Check accused Bilal Ahmad Sheikh was found actively involved in conducting the driving tests with the officials of Assistant Regional Transport Office, Kupwara,” they said.
They said the search of Sheikh’s vehicle led to the recovery of 138 original driving licences besides various other incriminating material like provisional appointment slips for driving tests, application reference slips, application for addition of new class of vehicle, journey sheets of vehicles, transport plans, learners licenses, handwritten details regarding tests held on August, 4, 2021etc.
“Consequently, a case was registered in Police Station ACB Baramulla under section 7 of Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 and section 120-B of Indian Penal Code against Mukhtar Ahmad Sofi, Khursheed Ahmad Kanna, Abdul Hamid Bhat and Bilal Ahmad Sheikh for improper performance of public duty in furtherance of a criminal conspiracy.
“During initial investigation, it came to the fore that there is a deep nexus among accused officers of Transport Department and the private Agents (Brokers) to fleece the general public,” they said.
They said ACB on September 1 conducted searches of residential premises of Mukhtar Ahmad Sofi at Nowshera Boniyar Baramulla and residential premises of Bilal Ahmad Sheikh at Vilgam Kupwara in pursuance to the warrants issued by Court of Special Judge, Anti Corruption, Baramulla.
“During searches, cash of Rs 15,03,000 and Rs 1,35,500 was recovered from the houses of Broker and ARTO respectively, besides various incriminating material,” they said.
“To break this unholy nexus, Sofi, Kanna, Bhat and Sheikh were arrested by ACB Baramulla for custodial interrogation,” they added.