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Coffin scam: CBI nails army officers

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
July 08, 2006 10:49 IST
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Seven years after the Kargil war, the Central Bureau of Investigation has finally nailed some senior army officers and the company that sent the coffin boxes for the dead soliders at twice the market rate in what has come to be known as Coffin Scam.

CBI has registered a criminal case against a recently retired Major General, who was the then Military Attaché, Indian embassy in the USA; a Colonel ranking officer, who was the then Director, Master General Ordnance; another Colonel ranking officer, who was the then Joint Director, MGO; a private vendor of USA and others in the matter of procuring Aluminium Caskets and Body Bags for the Indian Army after conducting a preliminary enquiry into the deal, said a press release issued by the agency.

"The Ministry of Defence had imported Aluminium Caskets and body bags from a US based funeral Service Company to enable Indian Army to transport mortal remains of soldiers
from battlegrounds to the places of their next of kin with exalted decorum and efficiency. But the suspected officials entered into a contract in during 1999-2000 with the US-based supplier to import 500 Aluminum Caskets and 3000 Body Bags at an exorbitant rate of $ 2500 (approximately Rs.1.20 lakh) per casket and $ 85 per body bag flouting the rules of established procedure of defence procurement. The total cost of the contract was $ 1505000," the agency said while registering the cases against the high ranking army officers and the private US vendor, which sold the aluminium caskets and body bags to the defence ministry.

The agency found during the investigations that not only were the caskets three times in weight than required but they were also fabricated by welding. The purchase of the caskets and body bags at prices higher than the market rates cost the government loss of Rs 80 lakhs.
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Onkar Singh in New Delhi
 
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