As many as twenty five 5.56 mm INSAS rifles and 12,061 live cartridges have been missing in the Bell of Arms of Special Armed Police Battalion, Thiruvananthapuram, according to the audit report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India on General and Social Sector of the year ended March 31, 2018. The report was tabled in the state Assembly on Wednesday.
INSAS is a family of infantry arms consisting of an assault rifle and a light machine gun. “Consequent to the audit finding, a separate verification was conducted by Deputy Inspector General of police (Armed Police Battalion). Audit was informed that the 25 missing rifles were issued to Armed Reserve (AR) Camp, Thiruvananthapuram. Besides discrepancies noticed in the Verification report of DIG (APB), further audit scrutiny of records at the AR camp revealed that there was no entry regarding the receipt of these 25 rifles,” says the report.
“Hence it’s unable to obtain assurance that all arms with the Kerala police have been properly accounted for and there is no loss of arms. Regarding shortage of 12,061 live cartridges, it was informed that a preliminary enquiry has been ordered to be conducted by the Crime Branch,” the report further says.
According to the report, the shortage of 250 9 mm drill cartridges was sought to be covered up, by replacing the same with 250 dummy cartridges. It has also been noticed that an earlier shortage of 7.62 mm M80 bullets for self-loading rifles was sought to be covered up by an investigation board.
State Police Chief violated guidelines for buying vehicles for VIP/VVIP.
The audit done from 2013 to 2018 has also found that the state Police Chief, Lokanath Behera, violated Ministry of Planning and Finance (MoPF) guidelines which prohibited procurement of vehicles for VIP/VVIP security utilising MoPF funds.
“The police department procured two Bullet Resistant vehicles to ensure security of VIP, VVIPs and Z+ category visitors to the state at a total cost of Rs 1.10 crore without inviting tenders as required under the Stores Purchase Manual,” the report says.
“The police department also violated Stores Purchase Manual and Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) guidelines in the procurement of equipment. In at least four instances, there was clear nexus between officers of the department, vendors and Kerala State Electronics Development Corporation (Keltron) in fixing prices resulting in pecuniary loss to the scheme,” S Sunil Raj, AG (General and Social Sector Audit) said in a press meet briefing the findings of the report.
The report also found that anti-Maoist operations in the dense forests of Palakkad, Malappuram, Idukki and Wayanad suffered due to dependence of police forces on analog communication equipment.