Guns and bullets missing from Kerala Police battalion reveals CAG report
Thiruvananthapuram: While the police are meant to trace missing things, the law-enforcers in Kerala have found rifles and live ammunition missing from under their nose.
It is not really ‘missing’ but a scam in the barracks of the Special Armed Police Battalion (SAPB) involving none other than the man who heads the force — DGP Lokanath Behera.
The question rocking Kerala is whether the guns have slipped into the hands of extremists or someone high in the ranks pocketed the funds meant for the purchase of the weapons.
An embarrassing Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on the audit of modernisation of weapons in Kerala Police has found that 25 rifles and 12,061 live cartridges just vanished into thin air.
Demanding a probe by the NIA, Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan today accused the Kerala police of helping extremists to lay their hands on the guns and live cartridges. The Chief Minister is trying to slip out of the situation by giving vague answers, he added.
Leader of Opposition in Kerala Assembly, Ramesh Chennithala has demanded the resignation of Behera and accused Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan of shielding the top police officer.
In his report, Accountant General S Sunil Raj said 25 rifles (5.56 mm) and 12,061 live cartridges went missing in the bell of arms of the Special Armed Police Battalion (SAPB) in Thiruvananthapuram during 2013-18. He added that these missing guns and ammunition were never found.
“Audit scrutiny of records at Armed Reserve Camp, Thiruvananthapuram revealed that there was no entry regarding the receipt of 25 rifles and later police informed that Police Crime Branch wing was ordered to investigate the case of missing arms,” he said.
And as part of the coverup, 250 dummy cartridges were used to fill the shortage of 9 mm drill cartridges.
The audit report also pointed out several violations including the purchase of bullet-resistant vehicles at a cost of Rs 1.10 crore for VIP security without inviting tenders. Over Rs, 2.80 crores earmarked for construction of subordinate staff quarters was diverted for the construction of villas for the state police chief and three additional DGPs.
The report also points out that the police violated scheme guidelines while procuring vehicles for police stations and misutilised funds for purchasing luxury police cars.
The report rated performance of Kerala State Housing Board as worst as it incurred an expenditure of Rs 289.96 crore to execute work to the tune of just Rs 96.77 crore in the five years.
Reacting to the report, the Chief Minister said there are Assembly norms to study CAG findings and that the matter would be investigated.
Police Chief Lokanath Behera refused to comment saying that since the CAG report is with the legislature, it would be a breach of privilege to speak on it.