An Army Colonel,on deputation as a Commanding Officer of 45 Assam Rifles,is under the scanner after the police recovered cash adding up to Rs 19.31 lakh and a pistol from his luggage at Barama,in Assams Baksa district,last week. Both the Assam Rifles and the Army have initiated separate inquiries into the matter.
Baksa SP Bir Bikram Gogoi said the police,following a tip-off,intercepted a truck that was transporting personal belongings of the officer,Col B B Yadav,from Tripura to Lucknow on October 3. On searching,they recovered the cash and the firearm. The Colonel,who was on transfer from a location in Tripura to Lucknow,was earlier posted in Haflong,in Dima Hasao district in Assam.
While an Assam Rifles jawan travelling with the truck had keys to most of the trunks and boxes in the truck,he did not have the keys for three particular trunks. As we broke the locks of the three trunks in the presence of a magistrate,we found currency notes totalling Rs 19.31 lakh and a pistol, the SP said.
The police allowed the truck to proceed to its destination with the remaining items,but the cash and the weapon have been kept in the Barama police station. While a case has not yet been registered,a general diary entry was made mentioning the cash and the weapon.
We have informed the Assam Rifles headquarters in Shillong,and also written to the Income Tax department as well as the Reserve Bank of India to carry out the necessary verifications of the weapon as well as the cash, SP Gogoi informed.
Last week,the Colonel contacted the police and sought custody of the cash and the weapon. The police,however,refused to part with the items.
It is up to the Assam Rifles and the Army to confirm whether the weapon was official and was legally provided to the Colonel and whether he was authorised to carry it on transfer,particularly in a truck in which he was personally not travelling, said Gogoi.
He added that the Assam Rifles had promptly taken up the matter and sought more details from the police. The AR headquarter in Shillong is in touch with us and we sent them a detailed report yesterday, Gogoi said.
While the inquiry is still on to ascertain whether the recovered weapon was in legal possession of the officer,investigators are looking at all possibilities as there were no supporting documents to prove that the pistol was licensed to the officer. An official familiar with the case in New Delhi said the formal inquiry would establish both the source of the money and the firearm.
Sources in Delhi said an inquiry was immediately started after the recovery of the items. Indicating the seriousness of the incident,sources said a counter-intelligence inquiry has been initiated by the Army to get a clearer view of the matter.
The Assam Rifles,the oldest paramilitary force in the country,is under the Home Ministry. But,while it has its own jawans and junior officers,the senior officers are sent on deputation from the Army.
The Colonel,sources said,belongs to the Sikh Light regiment. We are conducting our own inquiry separate from the probe that the Home Ministry has instituted, a South Block official confirmed.
The head of the Assam Rifles a serving Lt Gen of the Army also came under the scanner recently after the Army moved to recall him to face a probe for financial irregularities. The officer was accused of misusing regimental funds to pay for the expenses for his spouse,and the Army had asked the Home Ministry to repatriate him to face the charges.