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To prove CAG wrong, Kerala police publicly count rifles

The Kerala police on Monday made an apparently overt bid to prove to the public that the 25 assault rifles flagged as missing by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) were in their safe custody.

Seemingly stung by the damning findings of the CAG and cautious about the attempts of the Congress-led Opposition to politicise the issue, the government had despatched ADGP, Crime Branch, Tomin Thachankery, to the armed police camp here to personally enumerate the INSAS 5.56 rifles stockpiled from armed units across the State.

In an unusual move, the police allowed television newspersons into the bell of arms room to record visuals of Mr. Thachankery cataloguing the arms.

After a swift inspection, Mr. Thanchankery told newspersons that the police had accounted for all of the 660 INSAS rifles and none were missing as pointed out by the CAG.

He said the police had counted 647 rifles in the armoury and verified their serial numbers. An India Reserve Battalion unit deployed in Manipur had the remaining 13 guns in its custody.

The officers in Manipur had photographed the serial number of their guns and texted the images to the Crime Branch officers, he said.

Ill-maintained records and clerical error might have prompted the CAG to deem the weapons as lost. Mr. Thachankery said the CB had expedited its enquiry into the 12,061 missing cartridges spotlighted by the CAG.

He said the investigation into the missing ammunition would go beyond the custodians and reach police higher-ups.

The CB had initiated the enquiry in October last. It hoped to charge-sheet the case in April.

He requested the public to have faith in the CB enquiry.

The High Court had transferred the case of ammunition missing from the Kottayam Rifle Club from the CBI to the CB recently, he said.

Chennithala seeks probe

Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala ratcheted up the demand for a probe by the National Investigation Agency into the case of missing weapons and live ammunition.

He asked in Kottayam why the police could not convince the CAG about the whereabouts of the weapons despite repeated queries from auditors. Moreover, the CAG had physically verified the weapon stick and recorded the shortage.

Mr. Chennithala said the government had attempted to trivialise the “dissappearence” of lethal arms from the police armoury.

He said the CAG report on corruption in procurement and deficit in the stockpile of weapons pointed to the entrenched anarchy in the Kerala police department.

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