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chopper dealThe CBI Friday questioned West Bengal Governor M.K. Narayanan as a “witness” in connection with its ongoing probe into the procurement of AgustaWestland VVIP choppers for 556.262 million euros (Rs.3,726.96 crore).

Narayanan, 80, was quizzed in the Kolkata at the office of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

He was asked to appear before the agency to record his statement in connection with the deal as he was part of the group which had gone into the tendering procedures before the helicopters were purchased, CBI sources said.

The questioning took place after Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, in response to a clarification sought by the government after the CBI expressed its inability to question Narayanan as he occupied the constitutional office of governor, gave an opinion that the investigating agency could go ahead, according to law ministry sources.

Narayanan was the National Security Adviser in 2005 when Indian officials decided to amend technical specifications for the 12 helicopters the UPA government wanted to buy for use by the president and the prime minister, among others VVIPS.

The CBI is also expected to record the statement of Goa Governor B.V. Wanchoo and he has been asked to appear before the agency as he was the chief of elite Special Protection Group (SPG) guarding the prime minister before he was appointed governor.

The agency had sought permission to record their statements as part of its probe that was scrapped by the government in December last year.

The CBI had registered a case against former IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi, along with 13 others, including his cousins and European middlemen, in the case. The allegation against the former air force chief was that he had reduced the altitude at which the VVIP helicopters could operate so that Anglo-Italian firm AgustaWestland was included in the bidding process.

The defence ministry had concluded a contract with Agusta Westland in February 2010 for supply of 12 AW-101 helicopters for the IAF’s elite Communication Squadron, which ferries the president the prime minister and other VVIPs. Three helicopters were received between November 2012 and February 2013.


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