SRINAGAR:A forest guard in Jammu and Kashmir who was the public relations officer (PRO) of former deputy chief minister Tara Chand during Omar Abdullah’s regime has turned out to be a multi-millionaire and amassed a huge wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income including four palatial bungalows, plots and a fleet of luxury vehicles. He has also conducted Rs 4 crore worth bank transactions in two years and visited many foreign countries.
The forest guard identified as Kewal Krishan Sharma of Akhnoor in Jammu was facing allegations of amassing moveable/immoveable property and wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income by indulging in corrupt and illegal practices. The State Vigilance Organisation (SVO) was inquiring into the allegations against Sharma. During investigation, the SVO found the allegations to be true and unravelled the facts about the moveable/immoveable assets Sharma owned.
“During investigation, the SVO sleuths unearthed that Kewal (forest guard) has four palatial houses,” SSP Vigilance, Jammu, Dr Koushal Sharma said.
He said the forest guard owns a double-storey house at Patta Paloura, Jammu; a fully furnished house with all luxury items at Border Migrant Colony at Paluwan, Akhnoor; a residential house constructed at his ancestral village at Dhangar, Kachrial. “Besides, he has also renovated and extended the ancestral house at village Kachrial,” Dr Koushal Sharma said.
The vigilance officer said the forest guard was also found to possess 17 marlas of land at Patta Paloura. “He has purchased Tata Safari, Mahindra Scorpio, a 4X4 Thar Jeep, commercial vehicles — bus Volvo, Matador and Tractor — in a mostly benami manner,” he added.
“It also came to fore that the forest guard maintains different bank accounts in his name, his son’s and that of a close relative wherein transactions of more than Rs 4 crores have taken place during the two-year period (2013-2014),” the vigilance official said, adding that Sharma visited foreign countries several times in violation of service conduct rules and norms and had incurred huge expenses on these visits.
The official said that cash amounting to Rs 10,82,730 was recovered during a search of Sharma’s Pata Paloura house on Friday.
“The documents of many commercial/luxury vehicles, passbooks, cheque books, credit cards, passport, revenue documents, documents related to foreign tours, a laptop, a CPU, a CCTV Control Unit and other incriminating documents have been seized and are being scrutinised,” Koushal Sharma said.
Interestingly, the guard has not been arrested yet, despite strong evidence.