Chinese parts in Bofors: Officer under probe murdered, say Madhya Pradesh policehttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/chinese-parts-in-dhanush-guns-scam-gcf-official-killed-with-sharp-weapon-says-mp-police-5572388/

Chinese parts in Bofors: Officer under probe murdered, say Madhya Pradesh police

The middle-level management official had gone missing on January 17. He had made a last call to his daughter, who studies in Kota. After that his phone was switched off.

S C Khatua went missing on January 17

A junior works manager with the Gun Carriage Factory (GCF), Jabalpur, who was questioned by the CBI in January for allegedly passing off China-made parts as those made in Germany, has been murdered, said Madhya Pradesh police Wednesday.

The body of S C Khatua (44), who was missing since January 17, was found behind a hillock on the factory premises Tuesday and his family members have identified Khatua’s clothes and shoes.

The police initially believed that the mid-level management official committed suicide because he was reportedly depressed after being questioned by the CBI that had carried out searches on the factory premises and his quarters on the GCF premises.

On January 17, he met a lawyer and prepared a written statement for the CBI. Police said he spoke to his daughter, who studies in Kota, around 5 pm and then his phone was switched off at 9 pm.

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After the post mortem Wednesday, Jabalpur SP Amit Singh told The Indian Express that it was a case of murder. He said it could have resulted from the blow of a weapon like an axe.

When he did not return home on January 17, his wife Mousami Khatua lodged a complaint saying he left home early and did not return. She told police that he was depressed since he was questioned. After the body was found, she told local media that he could have been eliminated by people who did not want him to disclose names.

In July 2017, the the CBI had registered an FIR against M/s Sidh Sales Syndicate, a Delhi firm for supplying duplicate spare parts used in the manufacture of 155 mm Dhanush artillery guns in a criminal conspiracy with unknown GCF officials.

According to the FIR, the Delhi firm submitted a forged certificate of origin for Wire Race Roller Bearings. Though made in China, the bearings were embossed with “CRB-Made in Germany”, and the officials were accused of accepting the certificate.

Four firms had participated in the tender to supply four bearings. The Delhi firm won the bid at Rs 35.38 lakh. Two more bearings were later sought. Between April 7, 2014, and August 27, 2018, six bearings were supplied for Rs 53.07 lakh. The Delhi firm submitted the certificate of origin from CRB Antriebstechnik, Germany, implying that the bearings were manufactured there.

The address and the telephone code mentioned on the certificate were fake, said sources, and the three letters were replicas of each other with no dates.

On testing, the bearings were found unacceptable due to deviations in dimensions. The Delhi firm assured that it would replace the bearings for free if they did not perform and take corrective action for future supply and was paid the money.

The CBI later learnt that the German firm does not manufacture the bearings and the Delhi firm engaged M/S Sino United Industries (Luoyang) Ltd, Henan, in China, to manufacture them.

“Consequently, the bearings were accepted as a special case by unknown officials of GCF, Jabalpur, by abusing their official positions,’’ stated the FIR.

The CBI later learnt that the German firm does not manufacture the bearings and the Delhi firm engaged M/S Sino United Industries (Luoyang) Ltd, Henan, in China, to manufacture them.

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More than the money involved, the scam has serious implications because the production and performance of the gun are crucial to the country’s defence. Singh said prima facie the police believe that the murder was related to the scam and he could have been killed for the fear that he may spill beans on others.