<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi, one of the accused in the AgustaWestland chopper scam, maintained a cheerful persona even as his family broke down when he was remanded in judicial custody till December 30. Two others—cousin Sanjeev, aka Julie, and Delhi-based lawyer Gautam Khaitan—were also remanded in judicial custody a week after they were arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).Tyagi, who tried to raise the morale of his supporters—retired Air Marshals, including a retired Chief of Army—was overheard joking with his former mates that he hoped to be sent to Tihar Jail and assigned the same cell that Rajya Sabha MP K Kanimozhi was in when she was arrested in connection with the 2G scam.Tyagi’s remand in judicial custody came a day after Italy’s highest court of appeal ordered a re-trial of Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini, former CEOs of Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland. The duo was convicted for bribing Indian government officials a 560 million Euro deal involving the sale of 12 helicopters.When Tyagi entered the tiny courtroom presided by Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar, all stood up. The crowd of about 30 that included family members, and former air marshals—almost all beyond the age of 70, stayed there right through the proceedings.Hours after the hearing concluded, the veterans stayed back till the accused were ferried to jail in a separate van—as requested by the defence councils. Words of encouragement flowed as they tried to speak to Tyagi through a mesh outside the lock-up facility in Patiala House Court. Steaming cups of tea could not keep out the chill that they felt at how the system was treating a member of their fraternity who had once held the highest post in the Indian Air Force.Former Air Marshal Denzel Keelor, one of the first to arrive, was furious. “Is this how an officer of his (SP Tyagi) stature should be treated,” Keelor fumed. “We are all demoralized and are present here because in the Air Force we all fight together,” he added.Keelor—a war hero who shot down a Sabre jet during the 1965 Indo-Pak war, and many others including retired Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak who were present in the courtroom today, were disturbed at the turn of events. Kak’s face crumpled when he realized his junior was being sent to jail after all. “I am viewing these turn of events with great despair and disappointment. SP Tyagi is not ordinary, the investigation must have had proof beyond question to take such a drastic step,” Kak said.Many veterans in the Air Force questioned the arrest and all seemed to agree that it appeared to be politically motivated. “We are easy pickings because we don’t say anything,” a retired Air Marshal was heard saying.”Anybody who knows the system and the procedure will know that Tyagi would have been unable to influence the tweaking of the operational requirements (a charge he has been accused of) a retired Air Marshal said on condition of anonymity.The former Indian Air Force chief—the first chief from any wing of the armed forces to be arrestedand the others who were allegedly involved in irregularities in the procurement of the VVIP helicopters from UK-based AgustaWestland were first arrested by the CBI on December 9, more than three years after registering the FIR.According to the March 2013 FIR, the CBI stated that in 2005 Tyagi abused his official position to change the consistent stand of the IAF on the service ceiling of VVIP choppers from 6000 mts to 4500 mts. The CBI stressed that without changing the operational requirements, AgustaWestland would have been unable to compete in the bid.All the accused, including the companies, were booked for criminal conspiracy, cheating and sections under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
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