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Are war room leak & Scorpene scam related?
Sheela Bhatt in Mumbai | June 24, 2006 21:43 IST
Former defence minister George Fernandes has alleged that that United Progressive Alliance government is hiding the truth about massive kickbacks received in the Rs 18,000-crore Scorpene submarine deal.
He also alleged that the navy war room leak and the Scorpene scam are related.
Fernandes, who is leading a campaign against the government ever since the leak was first reported last year, has asked, 'Who are the foreigners involved in the war room leak?'
He said that the Central Bureau of Investigation must immediately arrest Abhishek Verma, the alleged kingpin.
On Friday, the CBI raided 17 places in four cities -- New Delhi, Kolkata, Visakhapatnam and Bhubaneshwar -- in connection with the leak in the naval headquarters.
The raided places were of eight serving navy and army officers, a retired naval officer, and three bureaucrats in the defence ministry.
The CBI has also raided the offices and farmhouse of Verma.
Media reports about the raids have also quoted CBI sources as confirming that the leak is part of a 'larger conspiracy' impinging vital aspects of India's national security.
In a statement, Fernandes also claimed that the CBI's action, belated though it is, has fully vindicated the firm and consistent stand taken by the National Democratic Alliance in this matter.
'Indeed, I, both as the former defence minister and as the convener of the NDA, was the first to issue a series of press statements in February and March 2006 demanding a thorough probe.'
This effort culminated in a joint press conference held on March 21 by Lal Kishenchand Advani, Jaswant Singh and Fernandes where the trio made a detailed presentation.
The NDA believes there are many credible leads on the involvement of Verma and his links with the Congress, on the basis of which NDA charged that the UPA government had mounted a massive cover-up operation in these twin scandals.
Fernandes claimed: 'We received no satisfactory response from the government or the Congress to the information we provided and the demands we made.
'On the contrary, I was shocked to know that Abhishek Verma [against whom the Enforcement Directorate recently issued six non-bailable warrants for recovery of over Rs. 50 crore in various FERA cases of fraud] had been instigated by his political mentors to file a defamation suit against Advani. This shows the petty depths to which Congress' vengeful politics sinks."
Fernandes has released a list of questions in the wake of the latest CBI raids.
'The UPA government is compelled to answer the following questions:
1. The Navy has claimed in an affidavit before the Delhi high court that certain 'foreigners' are also involved in the leak. Who are these foreigners? Why has the government not named them so far? Why hasn't it taken any action against them so far?
2. The leak was first detected in May 2005. Why was the government sleeping for nearly a year before initiating any action in the matter? Why didn't it arrest, or even interrogate, the civilians (Verma and his two civilian associates - Kulbhushan Parashar and Ravi Shankaran, who is a close relative of incumbent chief of naval staff Admiral Arun Prakash) suspected to be involved in the crime for well over 10 months? Was this leniency shown in order to help them destroy evidence of their, and their political patrons', involvement in the crime?
3. Will the government at least now break its silence on the 'larger conspiracy', of which the leak is said to be a part? Specifically, will it at least now accept the link between the leak and the Scorpene submarine purchase scandal?
4. Although arrest warrants were issued against Parashar and Shankaran, why has Verma been spared so far? Also, why has the government allowed Verma and his associates to travel abroad?"