The army has sought early handing over of 900 body bags and 150 caskets procured in 1999 lying in a warehouse for the past 17 years after allegations of kickbacks in the $4 lakh deal and subsequent CBI probe into it. The army’s renewed pitch for getting custody of the body bags and caskets comes at a time when images of bodies of seven military personnel wrapped in plastic sacks and tied up in cardboard triggered outrage last week. The military personnel were killed in an Mi-17 helicopter crash in Tawang on Friday. Army has requested the CBI again to facilitate the handing over of the body bags and caskets as the probe into their procurement was over and the case was closed in 2013. In the aftermath of the Kargil war, the then NDA government had ordered procurement of 3,000 body bags and 500 aluminum caskets. However, following allegations of kickbacks in the contract, the deal was cancelled but the company which was given the contract had supplied 900 body bags and 150 caskets by then. The CBI had carried out probe into the allegations. A Delhi Court in 2013 had discharged three former army officials who were charge sheeted by the CBI. CBI had found that a typographical error at a clerical level triggered these allegations. The official sources said, however, an observation by a government auditor favouring scrutiny of the pricing of the body bags and caskets held back their release. American Government had also bought body bags and caskets from the same company at almost the same period when India had finalised the deal. The images of bodies of the seven military personnel wrapped in plastic sacks had triggering outrage prompting the army to call it an “aberration”.
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