J&K army minting gold out of sand

New Delhi: The lid over the “fake RDX” is removed. Official confirmation in the malpractice has been acknowledged. The hue-and-cry for retaining AFSPA acquires a new meaning.

The nexus between army officials and some people in planting and then “recovering” fake RDX was reported in MG (1-15 Nov. 2010). Mehboob Dar and an ex-serviceman Ram Prasad used to plant sand as “RDX” at some places which the army would them ‘recover’ and promptly destroy it. Each such operation brought Dar & Co. a cash benefit between Rs 30,000-50,000. Dar admits that he did this at least 50 times between February 2009 and October 2010. One can imagine what were his gains in the shady deal. Needless to say those behind the discovery and destruction must have made enormous gains, in addition to awards and promotions.

The nexus emerged when police recovered a consignment of apple boxes on 8 October last year near the MLAs’ hostel in Jammu in which a cavity had been created to store a black material which was being passed off as “explosive.” The boxes had detonators attached to them, triggering panic.

The modus operandi was an eye-opener for the investigators as the details of the planting of fake IEDs matched with official records. In all such cases it was found that such “explosives” were shown as “destroyed in situ” (destroyed on spot) by the Army officers who unearthed the IEDs. Defense spokesperson in Jammu, Lt. Col. Biplab Nath, said, “Preliminary investigation was carried out the moment initial media reports appeared ten days ago. No involvement of military intelligence or Army personnel has come to light. The role of military intelligence personnel, in this case, was limited to providing timely inputs to police authorities.”

Notwithstanding the statement of the defense spokesman, investigators from both state and central security agencies said, “Someone in the Command is sure involved in hatching and executing the conspiracy.”

A senior official said, the probe was still on and some personnel of Army will be questioned soon. Dar had told his interrogators that he had initially been directed by Satnam Singh, an intelligence operative working with the Army, to bring some sand, crushed stones and cement and pay money to stone quarries to get detonators. Singh had paid him Rs 40,000. In certain cases, Dar was asked by some officials of the Army intelligence “to gift” IEDs to some people after he had developed the art of manufacturing the fake device. Dar and Kishen were not alone in this trade and it was becoming a “cottage industry” where civilians were roped in for such acts with the bait of easy money.

J&K DGP Kuldeep Khoda said all those involved in the planting of “fake” IEDs would be dealt with under the law. “No one would be spared,” he added. The apple crates had neither RDX nor sand. “It was actually 30 kgs of urea, detonators and gelatine sticks attached with wires.” Dar is reported to have provided 72 such IEDs with the same ingredients to the army officials during the past three years. The award the MI personnel received ranged from Rs 10,000 to 80,000 for each discovery. Army sources said the rewards of the officers found guilty would be withdrawn and action will be taken against them in accordance with the military law.

In Silchar, Assam, Col. H.S. Kohli alias Col. Ketchup declared civilians as “militants” to claim gallantry award. He splashed tomato ketch up on them and sent their photographs to senior officers showing it as an encounter. The army had dismissed him in 2004 after the court martial. Who will not like to live in such a “paradise” where rewards pour!

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 January 2011 on page no. 4

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