Aiming to replace the old field guns and artillery in the hands of the Army, the Indian government in the mid 1980s decided to go ahead with the induction of bigger calibre 155 mm howitzers. The Haubits FH-77 gun manufactured by AB Bofors of Sweden, a company which was once owned by Alfred Nobel, was selected. A deal was signed on March 24, 1986, between New Delhi and the Swedish metals and armaments major, which said AB Bofors would supply the Indian Army with 410 155-mm howitzers. An option to license-produce 1000 more guns was also included in the deal.The amount was a significant $285 million (about Rs 1500 crore) for a pre-liberalisation India. The first whiff about the scandal came on April 16, 1987 when a Swedish Radio broadcast claimed that AB Bofors had paid kickbacks to key Indian policy makers and top defence officials to secure the deal. News about this broadcast was carried in the Indian media and the Rajiv Gandhi government issued a prompt denial. Sitting in her Geneva office, The Hindu's correspondent Chitra Subramaniam was in an advanced stage of pregnancy when she heard about the broadcast and the newspaper's then Editor N Ram asked her to follow it up. What followed thereafter remains unrivalled in the annals of Indian investigative journalism. VideoPhotoGallery
IBNLive takes you on a comprehensive walk through the 25 years since the arms purchase scandal first rocked India. As Chitra started calling up the right people and asked them the right questions, hundreds and hundreds of damning documents piled up on her desk. The people of India were shocked to know that over Rs 64 crore was indeed paid to some very powerful people. At the centre of it all cropped up the name of Ottavio Quattrocchi, an Italian businessman who represented the Italian petrochemicals firm Snamprogetti and had reportedly rose to become a powerful broker between New Delhi and international businesses owing to his reported proximity to the Gandhi family. Under immense...
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