Suspecting a conspiracy to eliminate evidence in the scam-tainted AgustaWestland chopper deal, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on May 6 said he will ask the CBI to probe the “mysterious fire” that occurred in the Air Force Headquarters on July 3, 2014.
He said in the Lok Sabha that if the fire was deliberately caused by someone having vested interest, then he had failed in it as the documents related to chopper deal were kept “locked up” in a drawer by an official.
“On July 3, 2014, a fire broke out under mysterious circumstances at Air Force where all records and files are kept. The mysterious fire destroyed all the files….I am going to ask the CBI to investigate,” Parrikar said while replying to a Calling Attention Motion on the chopper deal piloted by BJP leader Anurag Thakur.
He said if there was in “somebody’s mind to set it on fire”, then it has “failed”.
“The official, who was there, because of the sensitivity involved in the Agusta issue, had locked the files in a drawer. So three files were saved and the three files related to AW-101,” Parrikar said.
The present NDA government is accusing the previous UPA government of having “done everything” to help AgustaWestland bag the Rs 3,600 crore deal for purchase of 12 VVIP helicopters, in which about Rs 360 crore are alleged to have been paid as kickbacks.
CBI has already questioned former IAF chief SP Tyagi in connection with the controversial AgustaWestland chopper deal.
CBI had registered a case against Tyagi along with 13 others including his cousins and European middlemen.
The allegation against the former Air Chief was that he reduced flying ceiling of the helicopter from 6,000m to 4,500m (15,000ft) which made Agusta Westland helicopters eligible in the race for the deal.