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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014

Arms dealers’ farewell to air staff VC miffs Antony

Shishir Gupta , Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 21, 2013
First Published: 23:15 IST(21/7/2013) | Last Updated: 10:58 IST(22/7/2013)

Taking a serious umbrage at foreign defence vendors allegedly bankrolling a farewell party to vice-chief of Air Staff DC Kumaria in June, defence minister AK Antony has now sought detailed explanation from Indian Air Force (IAF) despite the latter seeking pardon for the officer on the grounds of no formal Intelligence Bureau (IB) report.

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With the IAF already under cloud with its former air chief SPS Tyagi being probed for alleged kickbacks in Augusta-Westland VVIP helicopter deal, Antony is peeved with the behaviour of Air Marshal Kumaria, who retired on June 30 as Vice Chief and is responsible for all procurement in IAF. Not satisfied with IAF’s explanation last week, the Defence Ministry has asked for details from IAF before asking the IB for a report.

On June 7, Air Marshal Kumaria was given a farewell party at Jacaranda Hall at India Habitat Centre. Hosted by the editor of a defence trade magazine along with former Western Air Commander of IAF, the party was attended by representatives of all major defence contractors who have either supplied or are planning to supply weapon systems and platforms to the Air Force. Defence ministry has names of all those representatives who attended and bankrolled the farewell bash.

After the party was reported in the media on July 1, the defence ministry asked the IAF for explanation on July 5. After dilly-dallying, the IAF replied last week apparently saying the then serving officer left the party after he saw representatives of defence majors. The IAF has requested the government to take a lenient view on the officer on grounds that there was no formal IB report on the issue.

When contacted senior IAF official refused to divulge any details saying the entire issue is with defence ministry.

 


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