New Delhi/Bangalore, Sept. 26: The government has ordered an inquiry into the recovery of Israeli missile parts that were found in a house in south Delhi’s Kalkaji locality, Union minister of state for defence Chaman Lal Gupta said in Bangalore today.
In Delhi, police said the Indian Air Force has taken possession of the components and the IAF’s intelligence wing was said to be interrogating the transporter hired by the Israeli company’s agent, Dharmendra Vyas, and the liaison officer, Abraham Bahar.
The IAF has taken possession of the equipment because of a request from the vendor, Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), to retrieve it. Sources said the equipment was non-lethal and did not require specialist handling.
It is understood that the parts were casings of a laser guidance system for precision-guided munitions. They were flown to Delhi on September 16 by a chartered flight and were “custom-cleared”. In case of lethal equipment flown into the country, custom clearance is given after the responsible authorities — such as the armed forces — take charge.
Defence sources said the view being taken was that there has been no major lapse in security but that the handling and transportation called for greater discretion.
In Bangalore, speaking on the sidelines of a seminar on defence procurement, Gupta said: “The inquiry is on... and we will ensure that it is not repeated and not harm our country.”
The police yesterday recovered boxes containing the missile equipment from a house of a transport agent in south Delhi which were to be delivered at an IAF base in Rajasthan.
Gupta said the defence ministry had taken steps to avoid such incidents in the future. “We will do that and ensure that things are not repeated,” he said, adding that “unless the inquiry is completed, we cannot decide any thing (on action against the agent)”.
However, handling of equipment for the armed forces — lethal or non-lethal — has standard operating procedures that are meant to be strictly followed. In the instance of the missile parts, the equipment was not to have left the possession of either the authorised agent of the company or the air force. The vendor, IAI, is also the developer of the Phalcon AWACs that India is negotiating with Israel and with whom the defence establishment has commercial transactions.
The missile parts were intended for a demonstration that IAI was to give to the IAF in the desert near Jaisalmer. But the IAF stated yesterday that the Israeli company pulled out of the demonstration.
Usually, such parts are brought in on a temporary licence. The suspicion is that the agent or agencies were trying to cut down on costs of transportation by trying to avoid paying cartage.
The local police that discovered the equipment went into a flap because of markings that indicated it was military material.