Army to probe howitzer trial leak

Josy Joseph, TNN

A Court of Inquiry, set up over the weekend to probe the leak of trial reports of an American artillery gun that Army wants to purchase, is set to investigate several Army officers on the suspicion of violating Official Secrets Act (OSA). In recent memory, military has not investigated a group of officers for suspected violation of the draconian Act.

Sources said the government was serious about sending a strong signal to arms dealers, that it would not let such manipulations go scot-free. Informal investigations by the Army headquarters show that the trial report was leaked at the behest of a major defence conglomerate which was initially in the race for supply of ultra light howitzers for mountain warfare.

The Western Army Command this weekend ordered a CoI under a lieutenant general to probe the leak of the trial report of M777 artillery guns, which the Indian Army wants to procure under a government-to-government deal with the US. The Director General of Rashtriya Rifles will head the inquiry, sources said.

The Army chief, and several others in the government and media, received an anonymous letter, with some three-four pages of the trial report, in recent days. The letter to Gen V K Singh warned him against the deal, saying it would defame him.

Sources in the government said the Army inquiry will investigate the entire issue with specific focus on possible violation of OSA. Under the draconian Act, condemned by rights activists, punishments can range from three to 14 years of imprisonment.

Photocopies of the trial report that the Army chief and others received did not contain the bookmark, meaning it was not the final report but a draft. Every final report of the Army carries an indelible bookmark.

An informal inquiry has already zeroed in on a recently retired brigadier, who was in the weapons and equipment directorate of the Army headquarters, and some officers of the artillery directorate. The brigadier, while in service, had asked for the draft report of the field trial for a single day. Officers in artillery directorate handling the trial sent the report to the brigadier without following due procedure, sources said. The inquiry showed that more than one officer was involved in leaking the trial report, sources said. Computers used by the trial team in Gurgaon and the northeast have been seized and sent for forensic examination.

What has angered the government top brass is the fact that the entire campaign against the FMS deal is suspected to be orchestrated on behalf of a rival artillery gun maker. “We cannot let such manipulations go on,” said a senior government source.

It is after a very long time that the military is carrying out a CoI against several officers, suspecting them to have violated the OSA.

Read more: Army to probe howitzer trial leak – The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/-Army-to-probe-howitzer-trial-leak/articleshow/7536633.cms#ixzz1EYr3Cswf

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Posted by pilotpaul on Feb 21 2011. Filed under All News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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