The Army has been hit by yet another scam — one which has significant implications for the internal security of the country. Expired tank ammunition from a Central Ordnance Depot in Jabalpur has landed in the hands of Naxalites who are capable of recycling them for launching audacious attacks on security forces.
Documents accessed by Express reveal that the Army has initiated disciplinary proceedings against Lieutenant Colonel SC Pandey, who was posted in the Central Ordnance Depot (COD), Jabalpur, on charges of selling unserviceable T-72 tank ammunition on the sly to a scrap dealer in Agra in November 2011.
What is more alarming is that these 125 mm FSAPDS (Fin Stabilized Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot) ammunition has found its way into the hands of Naxals operating in Jharkhand — a startling fact revealed by a witness during the Summary of Evidence.
The FSAPDS ammunition is considered to be the most lethal kinetic-energy cartridge, capable of destroying all known armoured tanks. It is also capable of enhancing the fire power of the T-72 tank. As a senior serving officer pointed out, the expired ammunition sold to the scrap dealer cannot be fired using a gun barrel by the Naxals, but they can make high-intensity IEDs with it, that can easily destroy a small tank.
The witness, Subedar Hiranmay Dutta, posted at COD (Jabalpur), while deposing under oath during a Court of Inquiry (CoI) at Jabalpur, had confirmed that on November 15, 2011, three vehicles left for the demolition ground (a site where expired ammunition is destroyed by the Army) on Barela Dam, about 30 km from the depot. But only two reached the spot. The third vehicle was carrying 139 packages of ammunition. Dutta said he was surprised when the truck in which he was travelling with Subedar Rao and Havildar GSS Reddy stopped on the way to the demolition ground.