The Rediff Special/ Josy Joseph
There is a deluge of questions about the middlemen who plague India's defence deals.
When it comes to answers, though, there is a real drought. For money, even if it is tainted, has immense power. Add to that the sheer influence and reach middlemen exert and no one wants to talk -- not upright serving officers, not even retired senior officers with clean reputations. Most of the stories about kickbacks in arms deals have been leaked to the media by those who lost out on lucrative contracts. But the complete details of any defence contract rarely see light of day.
The only exception is Bofors.
Normally, though, such contracts are whitewashed to appear legal. Lengthy and confusing official procedures, bureaucratic delays and the all-encompassing 'secrecy clause' make sure they are never scrutinised.
Investigations are rarely mounted against arms dealers. In the few cases where the guilty have been brought to book, action against them has followed reluctantly. Lack of evidence is cited as the main hurdle. Take, for example, the Central Vigilance Commission's audit of all major defence deals in the past 15 years. Of these, only one case -- a deal for the Army -- has been forwarded to the CBI for further investigation.
Very few officers -- Rear Admiral Suhas V Purohit is one such an example -- have taken on the arms dealers. His petition to the Delhi High Court, demanding his long overdue promotion, and his various representations to the government, offer an insight into the murky world of defence deals.
Special Correspondent Josy Joseph investigates the mystery behind arms agents, some of the deals they have brokered and the immense power they wield.
The Bofors-HDW scams
The infamous case of the INS Shakti
The Russian Connection
Design: Dominic Xavier
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