Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has claimed Indian Army soldiers in Kashmir “like to swap the weapons” they seize from terrorist. Singh has asked how a soldier will fight if he doesn’t have confidence in his weapon. “The soldiers of the regiment I served with are now posted in Kashmir. They like to swap their weapons with the ones they seized from terrorists because they like them better. If a soldier doesn’t have confidence in his weapon, how can he fight?,” Singh made this claim during a conversation in News18’s Rising India Summit. He also said the defence forces were “absolutely right” in demanding more budget.
Singh made the remarks when he was asked to respond on Army’s statement that forces were reeling under severe fund crunch and struggling to even make emergency procurement. In communication with a Parliamentary panel, the Army said that allocation of insufficient funds to it in the defence budget was going to hit the force’s modernisation. Stressing upon the need of more funds, Army said Chinese military was competing to reach the level of the US, while Pakistan was also bolstering capability of its forces.
Lt Gen Sarath Chand, Vice Chief of Army, said 68 per cent of the Army’s equipment were in the “vintage category.” He added that fund crunch will also impact the serviceability of the existing equipment and may even affect payment of installments for past purchases.
The Army made has conveyed its concerns to the Standing Committee on Defence. Its report was tabled in Lok Sabha recently. As per a PTI report, Lt Gen Chand told the panel that “the Budget of 2018-19 has dashed our hopes and most of what has been achieved has actually received a little setback.” He added that allocation of Rs 21,338 crore for modernisation was insufficient even to cater to committed payment of Rs 29,033 crore for 125 on-going schemes, emergency procurement. Chand added that committed liabilities of 2017, which will also get passed on to 2018, will further accentuate the situation.