Thursday, 20 October 2011

Kargil Coffin Scam India

Post Kargil war with Pakistan in the Kargil sector of India. The CAG found abnormalities in the purchase of Coffins for the Martyrs of the Kargil War. The nature of the irregularities committed in clearing certain defense deals mentioned in the Comptroller and Auditor-General's report showed gross irregularities were committed in the purchase of coffins by the Army during the Kargil operation.  The caskets that were bought from US-based funeral service company Buitron and Baiza for the slain soldiers in the Kargil war were allegedly purchased at a price higher than the actual cost.

The Bharatiya Janata Party - led government decided to go in for emergency purchase of coffins following the action in Kargil that resulted in the death of more than 500 jawans and army officers. The scrutiny of records by the CAG showed that some middlemen made huge profit by supplying the coffins at highly inflated rates. The Indian government bought about 500 caskets for 2,500 dollars each, which is believed to be thirteen times higher than the actual price. The government incurred a heft loss of 1,87,000 dollars in the purchase.

Of course, the supplier on his own could not have been able to palm off substandard "imported" coffins without the help of willing insiders who must have been bribed for clearing the deal. The Army top brass is not usually involved in the purchase of defence material and equipment. The placement of orders is routed through civilian agencies.

The investigation was passed on to the CBI which filed a Chargesheet in 2002 following the Coffin scam related to the Kargil War netween India and Pakistani hired Islamic militants. The three Indian army officials named in the chargesheet are Major General (retired) Arun Roye, Colonel (retired) SK Malik and a serving officer Colonel FB Singh; along with the American manufacturer of the aluminium caskets.

Surprisingly, the name of the then Defense Minister George Frenandis was missing from the reports. He was given a clearance and a clean chit from the scam.

There was a huge uproar and rage in India after the Coffin Scam was unearthed, there is another aspect that needs to be explained in context to the India Pakistan Kargil War Coffin Scam. India is now counted among the fastest growing economies in the world. And yet it still does not have the wherewithal to produce body bags and aluminum coffins for meeting domestic needs! It is evident that all aspects of the coffin deal need be investigated by the vigilance and other concerned agencies. And the culprits should be awarded harshest possible punishment for their role in the despicable deal.

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