Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 12: In a serious security lapse, 12,061 live cartridges and 25 INSAS rifles of 5.56 mm were found missing from the Armed Police Battalion of Kerala Police, according to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report tabled at the State Legislative Assembly on Wednesday.
INSAS is a family of infantry arms consisting of an assault rifle and a light machine gun. Regarding the shortage of 12,061 live cartridges, Audit was informed that a preliminary probe was ordered to be conducted by the Crime Branch, according to the report on General and Social Sector for the year ended March 31, 2018.
Shortage of 250 numbers of 9 mm Drill Cartridges was sought to be covered up by replacing the same with 250 numbers of dummy cartridges. The Audit also 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.
The CAG report also observed that the State Police Chief violated MOPF scheme guidelines which prohibited procurement of vehicles for VIP/VVIPs and Z Plus 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 Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, General and Social Sector, has faulted State Police Chief (SPC) Loknath Behera for violating the statutory guidelines established for ensuring fiscal probity in the procurement of equipment for modernising the force.
The finding triggered television news breaks and prompted the Opposition to highlight its national security implication.
The State Police said it would answer the points raised by the CAG to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which is the final word on audit findings.
The CAG said the SPC had ‘persistently’ violated Modernisation of Police Force (MOPF) guidelines by purchasing bulletproof luxury vehicles for VVIP use instead of vans for the law enforcement.
The auditors found that 15% of the vehicles purchased by the police were luxury cars for the exclusive use of “high-level officers and non-operational units” such as the CBCID.
The CAG found that the police headquarters had diverted funds meant for construction of staff quarters for subordinate officers to build luxury villas for the SPC and Additional Director General of Police. The CAG said lack of state-of-the-art digital ‘mobile radios’ had hobbled anti-Maoist operations.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan did not comment on the CAG’s report but had dismissed similar allegations raised against Mr. Behera by Congress legislator P.T. Thomas in the Assembly on Tuesday. The Congress sought to politicise the CAG’s findings with Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Mullappally Ramachandran demanding an anti-corruption probe against Mr. Behera.