Police in Jharkhand are fighting the well-armed groups of Maoists without having adequate number of main strike weapons (eg Insas rifles, AK-47 and sten guns), area weapons (eg mortars, light machine guns and hand grenade launchers) and security equipments like bullet proof jackets and bullet proof helmets.
An audit report, released in Ranchi on Friday by the state's principal accountant general (PAG), revealed that five Naxal-affected districts - Palamu, Ranchi, East Singhbhum, West Singhbhum and Hazaribag - have shortfalls of main strike weapons ranging between 29 to 64 per cent.
While Ranchi, one of the worst hit districts by Maoists activities, has shortfall of 64 per cent, East Singhbhum and West Singhbhum have shortfalls of 42 and 47 percent respectively. In Ranchi district, the total strength of police manpower is 4,895 whereas only 1,773 main strike weapons and area weapons are available, causing shortfall of 3,122 weapons (64 per cent). Similarly, East Singhbhum and West Singhbhum districts have shortfall of 969 and 1016 weapons, which constitute 42 and 47 per cent less that the sanctioned strength of police manpower.
As per the security forces' jargon, the main strike weapons include AK-47 rifles, 5.56 mm Insas rifles, 9 mm Sten guns, 9 mm pistols, .38 revolvers; whereas the area weapons comprises 5.56 mm light machine guns (LMGs), 51 mm mortar, hand grenade tube launchers and 7.62 mm LMG.
Palamu and Hazaribag that always remain in news for Naxal attacks on police and civilians, have shortfall of 29 and 45 percent weapons, respectively.
"Though two units of Jharkhand Armed Police, JAP-one and JAP-five, were found to be over armed by 77 and 81 per cent respectively; the newly formed and centrally-funded India Reserve Battalion (IRB-2), one of the main combat force of the state police, was found to be under-armed to the extent of 49 per cent," the audit report reads. The IRB-2 has shortfall of 463 such weapons.
Similarly, only 12 per cent police personnel deployed in these Naxal-hit districts have bulletproof jackets and bullet proof helmets. As per convention, each personnel should have one set of bulletproof jacket and helmets.
"The shortfall in strike weapons and their irrational distribution could lead to under-performance and casualties in anti-insurgency operations, especially in Naxal-affected districts," the PAG, Jharkhand, Rakesh Kumar Verma told Hindustan Times here on Friday.
Contacted by HT, the State Director General of Police (DGP), Neyaz Ahmad said, "Efforts are underway to purchase more strike weapons and bulletproof jackets for the state's constabulary. We have already placed orders for supply of such gadgets under the police modernization programme."