However, “notwithstanding this continuous and consistent flow of
information over fourteen years, the best the DEA could conclude in 1984
was that the Government of Bulgaria appears to have established a policy
of encouraging and facilitating the trafficking of narcotics under the
corporate veil of Kintex,” wrote Douglass.
That Kintex can supply AK assault rifles to a third nation is also questionable.
During the years of the cold war, in the race to build coalition partners,
the USSR freely passed on the technology for production of arms and ammunition
to the entire communist bloc in East Europe and Asia. And Kalashnikov
rifles provided an easy way to bring fledgling nations over to the Russian
Home Ministry has not deigned to reply to Russian
representations including a letter from President Putin’s
But, even back then,
an understanding was reached that the recipients would not sell the technology
to third nations. In Bulgaria’s case, a letter from the Soviet party
was handed to the Ministry of Foreign Trade of the People’s Republic
of Bulgaria in December 1961 that clearly directed the beneficiary “…not
to transfer the licenses and technical documentation, equipment, samples
and information got per this Letter, to the other countries as well as
to foreign physical and legal persons on the territory of the People’s
Republic of Bulgaria and abroad.”
Another jigsaw piece, which raises suspicion, is that the government,
knowingly or unknowingly, overlooked the fact that the Izhmash Open Joint
Stock Company holds a Eurasian patent on Kalashnikov assault rifles. This
is in addition to the patents the company holds in a few countries, including
China. In fact, the gun is named after Izhmash’s Chief Designer,
Lt Gen Mikhail Timofeevitch Kalashnikov.
How the MHA could have ignored all these facts is inconceivable. Did the
government not have the facility to access search engines on the internet?
When the empanelled companies were supposed to submit details of the past
supplies, how is it that Kintex forgot to furnish what the world knows?
The crime displays its full meaning, when it is seen through the lens
of history and international relations. India happens to be at the forefront
of the international fight against proliferation of small arms. The country’s
permanent representative to the United Nation’s Department of Disarmament,
Rakesh Sood, had chaired a meeting in 2003 of a group of governmental
experts on Tracing Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons.
Time and again, Sood has called for international-level cooperation between
the member nations to combat the scourge of small arms proliferation.
“Simply because it was possible to deal with the trade in illicit
weapons through national or regional means did not mean there was no need
to address measures aimed at international cooperation,” he had
said in 2001. In 1995, India had imported about one lakh assault rifles
from Romania, but that, sources say, was with the tacit consent of the
Certainly, there are many other queries that need answers: on what grounds
was a competent manufacturer disqualified; why weren’t any of the
correspondences sent by Izhmash ever replied to; was the government unaware
of the patent on the weapon?
However, when Tehelka faxed a list of questions to the MHA, the media
consultant to the deputy prime minister, AN Sharma claimed, “we
can answer the questions only once Mr Advani is back in Delhi.”
Even the Kintex officials refused to respond to Tehelka’s repeated
Interestingly, some people in the know are questioning the wisdom behind
the selection of AK-47 for the forces. They challenge the decision to
‘modernise’ with an archaic weapon like the AK-47. The first
model of AK-47 was developed in the year 1947, the year of our independence.
If the weapon has been in the news lately, it is for all the wrong reasons:
the gun is more popular in terrorist cliques than in national armies.
Apparently, there are technologically advanced models, such as the Chinese
AK-56 and the AK-101 to AK-105 developed by the Russians, which are available
for a little more than what an AK-47 costs.