Former Navy chief Admiral Joshi breaks silence

'My resignation was accepted in hours as govt wanted a scapegoat'

Former Navy chief Admiral Joshi breaks silence

Eight months after he quit, former Navy chief Admiral D K Joshi said his resignation was accepted “within a couple of hours” as the government wanted a scapegoat who can be pinned down for the technical flaws and lapses leading to a series of major and minor naval accidents.

“Surprise was not the word, but I was amused that the government accepted it (resignation) in a couple of hours. There appeared to be such great haste to pin it (the responsibility) on someone,” Joshi said in an interview to a private news channel.

This is the first time the former Navy chief spoke after he resigned in the wake of an accident on-board naval submarine INS Sindhuratna off Mumbai in February, killing two naval officers and injuring several others.

The accident happened six months after another submarine of similar class, INS Sindhurakshak, exploded and sank off Mumbai coast on the eve of Independence Day, killing everybody on-board.

In between the two submarine accidents, there were a series of major and minor accidents involving naval warships.

Without mentioning then defence minister A K Antony's name, Joshi accused him of not backing up the force at the hour of need.

“In any high technology enterprise things will go wrong occasionally. Does the establishment support you or does it rush to make ‘frittering away of national resources’ kind of statements? It impacts the image (of the service),” said the Admiral.

Addressing a closed door naval commander's conference, Antony told the Navy not to fritter away precious national resources, while criticising the maritime service for those accidents. The minister's comments were later leaked to the media, putting the Navy chief on the dock.

“To begin with frittering away sort of implies wilful waste, and when related to an armed force it is tantamount to treachery,” Joshi said. Asked what led to the media reports on a series of naval accidents, Joshi said: “Feeds were being given (to the media) is indisputable. We know who was constantly feeding this so that should something go wrong, the service is the villain. There was a job of a particular agent of the establishment to continuously feed this news.”

The former Navy chief said there was a “dysfunctional and inefficient business model” in which the service has professional competence, accountability and responsibility but no financial empowerment.

“For example, change of submarine batteries, which are available indigenously or for commencing refits and repairs of ships, aircraft, submarines in Indian yards, the service does not have that empowerment. Where there is authority there is no accountability. And where there is responsibility there is no authority,” he added.

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