Leak anti-national; will take STRONG action: Antony
Terming the recent leak of Army Chief General VK Singh's March 12 letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as "anti-national," Defence Minister A K Antony on Thursday said he and the defence ministry would take the strongest possible action against those responsible for the leak under Indian law.
"Whoever leaked the army chief's letter to the PM is anti-national. It only helps our enemies. The issue was raised in Parliament yesterday. We have requested the Intelligence Bureau to inquire. Once that report is received, we will take further action. We can't spare those people. Strongest action will be taken under Indian law," Antony told media in New Delhi.
Asked whether the army is facing a crunch in availability of ammunition, as alleged by the army chief, he said, "You are trying to corner the government on both fronts -- going slow and scams... Don't blame me on both counts. The government will have to take care of both... I cannot throw into the basket any complaint... It will take time (to investigate the allegations)," he said.
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(With inputs from agencies)
Image: Defence Minister A K Antony
'We will not spare any effort'
Antony said the amount spent for ammunition is on the increase every year.
"The figure is more and more every year. Last year, it was Rs 11,000 crore, this year, it is Rs 12,000 crore. There is a limit of the budget. At the same time, regarding equipping the armed forces, budget will not be a problem. We are continuously reviewing the defence preparedness. We will not spare any effort," he added.
Asked about media reports about corruption and kickbacks in a recent deal, Antony said, "Action will be taken against the companies even if the contract has been done, going by indemnity clauses contained in all the contracts.
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Image: Indian soldiers atop T-72 tanks cross a bridge as they take part in an exercise
Photographs: Kamal Kishore/Reuters
'Our policy is zero tolerance for corruption'
"Our policy is zero tolerance for corruption. In the process of procurement, if we receive complaints and it is established -- we will not hesitate to cancel contracts at any stage. We have strong safeguards in the form of integrity pact for any contract over Rs 100 crore. As per integrity pact, if any malpractice is found, there is provision for strict action to protect money and interests," he added.
Recently, a letter written by General Singh to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was leaked to the media.
Media reports said the March 12 letter warned the Central government leadership about the inadequacy in the Indian armed forces owing to a shortage of ammunition and an obsolete arsenal of weapons, posing a threat to national security.
General Singh said that he had informed Antony about the bribe incident. However, Antony had told Parliament that General Singh had not lodged a formal complaint.
Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh