A cap for Rs 100, shirt and trouser set for Rs 280, belt and badges at Rs 80 and shoes for Rs 300. The Delhi Police uniform, with all the accessories is available across markets in Delhi. For less than Rs 1,000 and without any questions asked.
Delhi may be on high alert in the backdrop of the Pathankot terror attacks, where terrorists hijacked a top cop’s car but there is little that has stopped shopkeepers from openly selling uniforms of police, security and paramilitary forces to anyone who walks in.
Exit GTB Nagar Metro station on Hudson Lane and you will enter into the security uniforms market. Over a dozen shops on both sides of the road have police uniforms, caps, badges and shoes on sale. Not just that, they also provide the facility of tailor-made uniforms for you.
“We sell the entire set of the police uniform. The readymade ones are available in all sizes and if you need to get it stitched we sell the cloth and our tailor stitches it according to your size,” said Mihir Malhotra, a seller at GTB Nagar.
He said police officials come to buy uniforms from these shops as the khaki provided by the department is yellowish which according to him does not look “good enough”. So with the uniform allowance, adding a few bucks extra, they get uniforms made with better material, pleats and fit.
In Pathankot, the terrorists who hijacked the top cop’s car and later entered the air base were all wearing army fatigues. When HT enquired if people other than police officials come and buy these uniforms, Malhotra said not just policemen but college students, theatre artists and people who are just intrigued by the uniforms come to them.
However, when asked whether he checks any identity details of customers before selling security uniforms, Malhotra refused to answer.
The recent attacks in Punjab have raised safety concerns in Delhi. In such a scenario, the open and unchecked sale of police and military apparel could result in a security threat, experts believe.
In several other parts of the city such markets thrive. Tilak Nagar, Karol Bagh, Delhi Cantonment and Azad market all have dedicated shops selling safety apparel.
In Central Delhi’s Azad Market, shopkeepers are hush-hush about this business. Despite repeated efforts to talk to shop owners none were ready to divulge any details.
The trade is more specialised here. The shops also provide bags, bottles, jackets, gumboots and tents from all service lines — police, army, navy, air force and CRPF.
“There are over 300 shops in this market, out of which over 200 sell military gear and equipment. Some shops also sell second hand material which they buy from military auctions,” said Inder Chhabra, president, Azad Market Traders Association.