New Delhi: The Centre on Wednesday refuted in the Delhi High Court that INSAS (Indian small arms system) rifles were to blame for the death of soldiers in Naxal strikes in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh.
The ministry of defence (MoD) told a division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath that "none of the court of inquiries conducted in the aftermath of the attacks blamed the indigenous rifles".
Submitting a document before the bench, the ministry said INSAS rifles cannot be compared with other categories of weapons such as AK-47 assault rifles as both weapons had different features and were effective in different roles.
"The forces always use a combination of different weapons to meet the requirements in different theatres...it is precisely the reason that the elite forces like the National Security Guard are not using INSAS because their requirements are different from that of the army or other forces," said the document.
It added that the 5.56 mm INSAS rifles were inducted into service in 1992-93 after extensive user trials and had undergone three cycles of upgradation.
The response of MoD was filed in response to a PIL filed by Lt. Colonel Deepak Malhotra (retd), who alleged that the government delayed the replacement of "these unreliable assault rifles" despite knowing for several years that they were of a "defective design and metallurgy".
Questioning the effectiveness of the INSAS assault rifles, the PIL sought directions to the government to equip the soldiers of paramilitary forces - involved in counter- insurgency operations - with better rifles in a time-bound manner.
The defence ministry in 2012 replied in the Rajya Sabha that considering the technological developments, the plan was to replace the INSAS rifles with new assault rifles, the MoD said.
"Therefore, the ministry is in the process of procuring assault rifles through global route with the transfer of technology to Ordnance Factory Board. As such, the reply (in the Rajya Sabha) did not mention that the weapon was outdated or defective," the ministry added.