12 May, 2021

Six Feet Under

A pall of doubt hung over their buying. Now mull over the selling of the coffins, meant for Kargil martyrs.

Anupam Nath
Six Feet Under
Two years after the infamous 'coffin scam' broke—with the Comptroller and Auditor General indicting the defence ministry for hastening into a bad bargain for aluminium caskets and body bags—the government is now desperately looking for buyers for this detritus from the Kargil war. The army says it cannot use the heavy caskets and has categorised these as junk—costly junk, coming for $3,75,000 for 150 pieces (after deducting 10 per cent warranty, that makes Rs 1.47 crore). Though the government wants to sell these—and alongside them, for good measure, 900 body bags that cost $76,500 (Rs 34.42 lakh)—ministry officials say they cannot find buyers.

Unofficially, Indian defence dealers—who liaise with the defence ministry on a day-to-day basis—have been asked to sound out counterparts in East Europe who are frequent buyers of caskets. But given the inflated price, there are no takers. One buyer in Romania, for instance, who was interested, backed out when he heard the cost, saying it was way above the going price.

The ball for selling the coffins was set...

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