Uproar over ‘secret’ Indian military files
NEW DELHI: India’s parliament ground to a halt on Wednesday after MPs accused the defence minister of attempting to cover up corruption surrounding arms deals made at the height of a 1999 near-war with Pakistan.
Opposition MPs said defence head George Fernandes had refused to part with a “secret” report they claim would shed light on arms deals during tensions with Pakistan in 1999.
The controversy erupted when a 22-member Parliamentary Affairs Committee (PAC) last week told parliament it could not launch an independent probe into the case as the defence ministry, citing security, had declined to release a report by India’s Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), which probes high-level corruption. But the ruling BJP party said the report sought by the PAC does not even exist so there was no question of releasing it or holding it back.
The controversy has grown due to a separate high-level report months ago revealing cases of corruption in purchases of artillery guns, shells, bullet-proof jackets and coffins during the Kargil conflict four years ago. On Wednesday, opposition MPs stalled the house, demanding the resignation of Fernandes for not providing the information required. After desperate efforts to bring the house to order, Speaker Manohar Joshi adjourned it for the day. —AFP