Three factories in which ousted BJP minister Lal Singh is believed to own a share were raided by the police on Friday and acacia catechu (kattha) worth crores of rupees was seized.
“Our teams raided one factory in Kathua and two in Samba districts today,” inspector general of police Jammu zone SD Singh Jamwal told.
Kattha is extracted from wood of Khair tree. These trees, (botanical name Acacia) are found in abundance in the forests of the Chenab Valley and Kathua and Samba. Kattha powder sells for up to Rs 270 (200 gms) in the market. The kattha recovered from the factories was probably in excess of that permitted under the licence, a police official said on the condition of anonymity.
The police official said the factories raided today had remained closed for 30-40 years but were given permission to reopen in May last year during Lal Singh’s tenure as forest minister.
An official privy to the raids said that locals present there have told the police that LaL Singh has a share in these factories.
Asked about Lal Singh’s involvement, the IGP said, “This is the matter of investigation. Once investigations are carried forward things will become clear.”
He said raids were carried out on the basis of a complaint.
Kathua additional superintendent of police Sanjay Parihar said he did not know about the exact contents of the complaint.
“We have forwarded it to higher ups. The raiding team also seized some documents and bill books from the factories,” he said.