Altaf Hamid Rao:

MIRPUR (AJK),   (Parliament Times) : The AJK State Inland Revenue Department (IRD), with the assistance of police, have recovered and confiscated huge stock of unlawful raw material of cigarette worth over Rs. 1.11 billion in a surprise raid from the concealed godowns of M/s National Tobacco Company in Bhimbher city of Azad Jammu Kashmir, it was officially said.

Disclosing this at a crowded press conference at Mirpur Division Commissioner’s office here Monday night, Azad Jammu Kashmir Senior Most Minister Col. (Retd) Waqar Noor said that had this seized unlawful raw material of tobacco had been used, there would have been the production of the fake / unlawful finished product of cigarettes worth over Rs. 7 billion.

Commissioner Mirpur division Shoukat Chaudhry, the recently-Inducted Commissioner Inland Revenue Department AJK (South) Ishtiaq Ahmed, head of the raiding police team DSP Bhimber Naseer Ahmed. Acting Divisional Director PID AJK Javed Malik and other officials were also present at the news Conference.

The Senior Minister Col. (Retd) Waqar Noor continued that a total of 12 cigarette manufacturing units were working presently in Azad Jammu Kashmir including 11 in Bhimbher district of Mirpur Division and only unit in Muzaffarabad division.

The minister said that after the reports about tax evasion and production of fake cigarettes under the shadow of the famously known ‘’cigarette mafia’’ allegedly with the assistance of the stakeholders including previous managements of the department, the IRD department with the required full strength police force of Bhimbher district led by Deputy Superintendent of Police Naseer Ahmed conducted surprise raid on the hidden stores of the National Tobacco Company and recovered and seized the illegal raw material of the cigarettes from the go-downs.

Police have booked the owners of the cigarette company and further investigations are in progress.

Elaborating the incumbent Prime Minister Ch. Anwar ul haq led AJK government’s priorities to eliminate different type of mafia from their roots, including cigarette, timber mafia and corrupt element in the state-run functionaries across AJK, Col. (Retd) Waqar Noor said that since the sitting AJK PM Anwar ul Haq led coalition regime came into existence an year before, the AJK government has launched an extensive drive to wipe out corrupt element in the State government departments, who were causing the loss of billions of rupees to the state exchequer through their illicit acts and deeds.

The recent reshuffling in the top slots of AJK State run Inland Revenue Department (IRD) through induction of senior AJK bureaucrat Ch. Raqeeb as Chairman CBR (Central Board of Revenue) AJK and senior IRD officer Ishtiaq Ahmed as Commissioner IRD (South) are ample proof of the fact and sincere mission of the government to ensure neat and clean administrative system in AJK.

The rule of law will be ensured across the liberated territory in letter and spirit indiscriminately, the minister said adding that the reported timber mafia in Neelam valley and other parts of AJK will be taken to task till their complete elimination, he added. He said that huge quantity of unlawful timber was recently seized in Neelam valley and Barnala, (Bhimbher District) in the wake of the stringent drive against the timber mafia.


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