6 major defence scams in India that created huge controversies
India may be the largest importer of arms and has the 4th powerful army, but that doesn’t prevent the ongoing corruption especially in the defence sector. It is hard to remove controversy from defence and no matter which government assumes office, the allegation of corruption happens though not all are true. Here are six major defence scams in India that created huge controversies.
Though there were many scams still, it got more attention because it took Rajiv Gandhi PM post and also severely affected Congress reputation and became a mother of all controversies. The opposition alleges that both Swedish and Indian politicians took bribes for the deal and the middle man Ottavio Quattrocchi was a close friend of ruling Gandhi family.
VVIP Chopper Scam
AgustaWestland scam aka VVPI chopper scam is another controversy where Gandhi family name came to the picture and opposition didn’t leave a stone unturned to attack the ruling Congress party. The deal was about INR 3,700 crore where India has to acquire 2 three-engine AW-101 helicopters from an Italian company AgustaWestland, but Defence Minister AK Antony ordered to cancel after the controversy.
Barak missile scam
Even though former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam opposed the deal who was the scientific adviser to the Prime Minister, the government decided to purchase it from Israel. For seven Barak missile systems, the cost was INR 1,150 crore was higher than the initial rate which Israel quoted and DRDO opposed the deal from the beginning. Defence Minister Geroge Fernandes name also came into the controversy and CBI arrested Samata Party member RK Jain.
After Bofors Scam, it’s Tehelka sting Operation West End that did massive damage to the ruling BJP just like Congress suffered due to Bofors. The purpose of the sting exposed the scams that are happening during the arms deal. It showed that several ministers and defence officers were asking for bribes and in fact, the ruling BJP president Bangaru Laxman took 1 lakh as a bribe. Due to the sting, Bangaru Laxman and George Fernandes forced to resign, and the government took action against one Major General and four senior army officers.
Tatra trucks scam
These are used to transport missiles, troops and artilleries and were purchased from the Czech Republic since 1986. In 2012, Army Chief V. K. Singh alleged that he was offered 14 crore bribe to clear the purchase which he refused, and according to his allegation, 750 crores has been lost due to the bribes and commissions. He also raised the question regarding the quality of the trucks. His allegation made a huge controversy during the UPA tenure, but CBI closed the case in August 2014 due to insufficient evidence.
Scorpene Submarine scam
Though CBI didn’t find any evidence in this deal which was worth $3 billion with arm manufacture Thales, however, some allegations said that $175 million were paid to the government officials to make the process smooth. According to the allegation, Thales paid the amount to the arms dealer Abhishek Verma who is the main accused of many defence scandals including Navy War Room spy scandal. Though in 2008, CBI told the Delhi High Court that they didn’t find any evidence still, the case was continued till 2016 through a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) filed by Prashant Bhushan. In 2016, Delhi High Court dismissed the PIL due to lack of evidence and acquitted Abhishek Verma from this case.
During the Kargil war, the alleged coffin scam where CAG reported a loss of $1,87,000 due to several fraudulent transactions. According to the deal, 500 caskets were bought where each was $2500, but as per the allegation, the original price was thirteen times lesser. CBI filed a charge sheet in 2009 against three Indian Army officers but in 2013 court discharged all of them due to the lack of evidence.