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Army probes UN supplies

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 13.12.09
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New Delhi, Dec. 12: Defence minister A.K. Antony has asked the army to investigate a senior officer who has been accused by a Congress MP of having made money on the sly by inflating the prices of equipment bought for troops meant for UN missions.

The MP, Harsh Vardhan from Maharajgunj in Uttar Pradesh, alleged that the major general who was posted as an additional director-general in the army headquarters passed bills for items like footwear even though the price quoted was almost twice the market rate.

The major general was in charge of procurement of supplies for Indian troops heading to UN missions.

More than 6,000 Indian troops are currently deployed on UN peace keeping/enforcement missions in Africa and West Asia.

Following the forwarding of the letter by the defence minister, the army has instituted a court of inquiry. The court of inquiry has been asked to probe all procurements for UN troops for the last three years.

The court of inquiry will determine whether a prima facie case exists. If it does, it may ask for the summary of evidence.

No one facing a court of inquiry is held guilty unless a court martial determines or unless a summary decision is taken by headquarters.

Currently, the military secretary, one of the senior most officers in the army, Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash is a witness to such a court of inquiry in Calcutta that is investigating army clearance of a land transfer in north Bengal. Two other lieutenant generals and a brigadier are also witnesses in that inquiry convened by the eastern army commander Lt Gen V.K. Singh.

The court of inquiry formed after the Congress MP’s letter to the defence minister is headed by the signal officer in chief, Lt Gen P. Mohapatra. Two other major generals are also members of the court.

The allegation is that the major general in charge of purchases sanctioned two types of boots that caused a loss of nearly Rs 3 crore. More than 30,000 pairs of boots were bought.

The major general called as a witness is in the running for a promotion and the office of the master general of ordnance in army headquarters.