"All weapon sellers now have to sign pacts pledging not to use brokers"

  • Not applicable to registered agents
  • New procedures for registration soon
  • Fratricidal killings, suicides in Army "worrying"

    New Delhi: Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday declared that no middlemen would be allowed in defence deals.

    ``There is a ban in force on middlemen,'' he said, while elaborating that as per the norms laid out by the new arms procurement policy, all weapon sellers would have to sign integrity pacts, binding them not to use middlemen in deals.

    He was speaking at a FICCI-sponsored seminar on `Public-private partnership in defence procurements,' here.

    Though middlemen are banned in weapons deals, Mr. Mukherjee said the ban would not be applicable to duly registered arms agents.

    The Minister said the Government would soon announce new procedures to make it easier and mandatory for all arms agents to register themselves with not only the Defence Ministry, but also the Reserve Bank.

    Later speaking to newsmen, he termed as ``worrying'' the rise in fratricidal killings and rate of suicides in the armed forces. He said he had directed Army authorities to create a `healthy operating environment' for the forces.

    Admitting that security forces were working under ``stressful conditions'' especially in counter-insurgency operations, he said the Army was in the process of studying the causes leading to such unfortunate incidents and taking appropriate remedial measures.

    ``Efforts should be made to ensure that personnel undergoing hard duties get longer rest'', the Minister said. PTI