Who Took Bullets From Kerala Police?
Senior police officials in Kerala use live cartridges for leisure activities and that is how they go missing from police stock, a source with Kerala police claimed.
Giving an example to support his statement, the source told The Lede that there is still a case file open which states that an IPS official who was posted in South Kerala then had taken live cartridges for his wife’s firing entertainment.
“The incident happened in the early 2000s. I have seen that case file. And still, it has not been closed. It is a live file,” the source said adding that such things are common and this is how live cartridges go missing from the police stock register.
A CAG Performance Audit conducted in October 2018 has found that 12,061 live cartridges are missing from Kerala police stock.
The audit found a shortage of 25 numbers of 5.56 mm INSAS rifles and 12,061 live cartridges.
Additionally, the audit also noticed that the shortage of 250 nos of 9 mm Drill Cartridges was sought to be covered up by replacing the same with 250 nos of dummy cartridges.
The CAG office had audited the 2013-18 performance of Kerala police.
The audit was done by a test-check of relevant records in the Government Secretariat, Police Headquarters, the Kerala Police Housing, and Construction Corporation Ltd and found that the Stock Register and related records of arms and ammunitions were not properly maintained.
White Correction Fluid
The Stock Register belonged to the Special Armed Police Battalion, Thiruvananthapuram (SAPB), and the entries there had many over writings, the use of white correction fluid and striking off of entries, etc. The entries and corrections were not properly authenticated.
“The officials who are in charge of arms and ammunition in police units will be non-IPS ones. In police camps, they are called assistant commandants. And they will be Deputy SPs. When these Deputy SPs get an order from IPS officials to hand over live cartridges, then they will budge and hand over the same,” the source said.
“As it is against norms, it cannot be recorded officially by the official in charge of the stock register. This is how the bullets go missing and then the stock register gets tampered with,” the source added.
According to CAG, they have found that even white correction fluid was used to rewrite the stock register.
S Sunil Raj, IA & AS, Accountant General (General & Social Sector Audit), had said that audit noticed that the Stock Register and related records of arms and ammunitions in the Special Armed Police Battalion, Thiruvananthapuram (SAPB), were not properly maintained.
“The entries in the Stock Registers had many over writings, use of white correction fluid and striking off of entries, etc,” he had said.
Shells Taken As Souvenirs
Meanwhile, another police source said that senior officials bring in their family members and even friends to have leisure firing tests.
“In some cases, those who come in with friends take away the empty shells of fired cartridges as a souvenir. Eventually, we even won’t get shells to be recorded in the stock register,” the source said.
According to the CAG official, the Audit had noticed that the shortage of 250 9-mm Drill Cartridges was sought to be covered up by replacing the same with 250 dummy cartridges.
“There was no document on record to show how these dummy cartridges came into the possession of the SAPB and how these were taken into stock. The Commandant, SAPB offered no explanation to Audit on how the 250 unauthorised dummy cartridges came into their possession,” the CAG official had said.
According to a 2004 directive from the Director General of Police, officers who are in charge of arms and ammunition have to check the arms and ammunitions in their charge at least once a week and make an entry in the register maintained for the purpose, regarding the correctness of arms and ammunition kept in the store.
The directive also states that Company Commander/Circle Inspector should conduct surprise physical verification of stocks of Arms and Ammunition once a month and make a record of it in the register maintained for the purpose and the Superintendent of Police/Commandant should check the arms and ammunition once in every six months and ensure that all is in order.
Senior police officers visiting the camps/police stations are also entrusted to physically verify the arms and ammunition in stock, the quantity received, issued and incorporate the same in their Inspection Reports.
However, the CAG states that it observed from the following instances that the police department was aware of the shortage in ammunition and attempted to cover up the shortfall instead of identifying and taking action against the culprits responsible for the loss of ammunition.
Meanwhile, in April 2019, the Kerala government had admitted negligence in the proper maintenance of records and stated that it has been decided to conduct a full-scale audit of the arms and ammunition across the state in all units, to be completed in the next four to six months.
However, an update on the probe is yet not available.