Centre appoints bureaucrat accused in Gulmarg land scam as advisor to LG of J&K

26 March 2020
Umer Asif
Umer Asif

On 15 March, the union ministry of home affairs sanctioned the appointment of Baseer Ahmed Khan, Kashmir’s divisional commissioner, as an advisor to Girish Chandra Murmu, the lieutenant governor of Jammu and Kashmir. Baseer is accused of being involved in a multi-crore land scam in 2009. A case against him regarding the matter remains pending with a special anti-corruption court in Baramulla. His elevation brings into question the Narendra Modi government’s promise of corruption-free governance in Jammu and Kashmir post the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution.

Despite an allegation of corruption against him, Baseer still managed to hold many powerful administrative posts in the erstwhile state throughout his career. According to a September 2019 report in The Caravan, his father, Nazir Ahmed Khan, was the chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Public Service Commission, between 1977 and 1982. The commission shortlisted both Baseer and his brother Munir Ahmed Khan for appointment towards the fag end of their father’s tenure. Those left off the list later approached the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir, accusing the commission of manipulation. The allegations could not be proven in court. In 2001, Baseer became an officer in the Indian Administrative Service and a decade later Munir joined the Indian Police Service.

In March 2009, the Jammu and Kashmir State Vigilance Organisation, or SVO, an anti-corruption watchdog, registered a case against 20 people for their involvement in the illegal transfer of state-owned land to private persons in Gulmarg, located in Kashmir’s Baramulla district. Baseer, who was the deputy commissioner of Baramulla at the time, and Mehboob Iqbal, a former divisional commissioner of the Kashmir division, along with other public servants and businessmen were booked in the case for violating provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir State Lands (Vesting of Ownership Rights to the Occupants) Act, 2001, also known as the Roshni Act. The Roshni Act laid out provisions for vesting ownership rights to occupants of state-owned land for financing power projects. The SVO could not present the challan, or chargesheet, against Baseer regarding the matter until September 2013.

Ashutosh Sharma is a freelance journalist.

Keywords: Article 370 Jammu and Kashmir corruption