Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Two years ago, the Indian Army, through a Court of Inquiry, had known that 72 officers including a serving Colonel and three Lt Colonels, posted in sensitive border districts of Rajasthan and in Bhutan had sold away their Service and Non-Service guns of both prohibited and non-prohibited bore to undisclosed private persons in blatant violation of the Army Act as well as the Customs Act. But instead of punishing them, the Court of Inquiry report was buried under the carpet.
An Army affidavit submitted before a Bench comprising Justices B Sudershan Reddy and S S Nijjar, following interim orders in a PIL, vomits the name of these officers confessing therein that from amongst the officers involved in the racket Col Neeraj Rana has sold away 5 numbers of weapons of Army Officers, Lt Col V S Rathore has sold away 17 weapons of Army officers including his own weapon, Lt Col S S Rathore has sold away 5 weapons of Army officers including his own and Lt Col B S Shekhawat has sold away 11 weapons of Army officers.
While admitting the offense against the country in the instant case, the Army has revealed, “Forty-five officers and one JCO had sold away their non-service-pattern (NSP) weapons without taking sanction of competent authority in violation of SAO 1/S/96 and the Arms Act, 1959. Of these, 10 officers have since retired.”
Out of the 35 in-service officers only four officers have retrieved their guns and reported to Central Ordnance Depot, Jabalpur for further action whereas the rest 31 racketeers have not yet buzzed.
It is a shame that the Army has not yet dared to subject these uniformed racketeers to disciplinary action despite knowing their crime since two years, through its own Court of Inquiry.
It is more shameful that information on this illegal gun selling by Army Officers was not being released even under the RTI Act. Had the Supreme Court not acted on a PIL, this information could never have come on public records and no action could ever have been possible against these racketeers.
But we suspect, had there been no Kargil war, Army Officers would not have dared to indulge in such naked crime against the country.
Swindling of public funds in the guise of defense expenditure was the industry that Vajpayee government was running under the cover of Kargil war, as even the CAG reports have shown.
George Fernandes’ resignation in March 2001 following Tehelka exposures on defense deals and his subsequent appointment as monitor of administration as NDA convener and eventual reinduction into the same post of Defence Minister in October 2001 after his supporters threatened to expose the PM following his resignation, makes many wonder as yet as to what secrecy of Vajpayee was known to Fernandes that had helped him thus, despite Opposition boycott to him till the last in the parliament! Was this secrecy connected with the Cargil war?
Had there been no Kargil war Vajpayee could never have returned to power. Was this war then willfully created? Was it the secrecy shared between Fernandes and Vajpayee? Had Vajpayee succumbed to his blackmail and reinduced him as the defense minister to keep his mouth shut? The real reason of Vajpayee’s shameless maintenance of Fernandes as defense Minister in total disregard to authentic reports of audit and intelligence over and above Opposition boycott against him, are yet to be investigated into in interest of the country and its democracy.
Fortunately for India, the Kargil war is facing trial in the Supreme Court in the matter of fudging of the “battle performance report”.
The Armed Forces Tribunal has reportedly indicted the former head of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps, Lt. Gen. Kishan Pal (Retd), for his biased confidential report on Brig. Devinder Singh, the then head of the 70 Infantry Brigade (Retd) in the context of the Kargil operations and has ordered that the same be expunged. This has given birth to the case before the Supreme Court, even as Pal has denied any bias against Singh.
We have discussed the issue of Kargil war under the caption, VAJPAYEE BE ENQUIRED INTO IN CONTEXT OF FERNANDES, in these pages on 13 October 2006.
We stress upon that article. We urge upon our readers to go through that article again and to form their own opinion and to join us on the demand we have raised therein, if they agree with what we have said in that article.
To us, Kargil war has corrupted our defense system. Were the defense personnel not be knowing that Kargil was a fake war, so many officers could never have dared to violate the Army Act in selling away their and others’ official weapons in so massive numbers and knowing of the same as far as two years ago, the Army authorities could not have kept quite while allowing the same officers to continue in service.
The Supreme Court, while dealing with the case mentioned supra, should try to see if the Kargil war was entirely fake, so that the climate created by Vajpayee and Fernandes that has encouraged defense officials to act against the country sans qualms could come to an end after due exposure.