Fed up with controversies concerning the bullet-proof jackets used by the Mumbai police during the 26/11 attacks, the Home department has ordered the police to clear the air about the quality of these jackets.
“We are telling the [Mumbai police] commissioner to explain the quality of the bullet-proof jackets,” P.K. Jain, principal secretary (home), told Hindustan Times.
The order is expected to reach the police chief on Monday.
The efficacy of these jackets has been in question ever since joint commissioner of police Hemant Karkare — who was wearing one of them — was shot dead on November 26, 2008. The issue has been taken up in the Bombay High Court after a public interest litigation alleged that Karkare was killed because the jacket was sub-standard.
The mysterious disappearance of Karkare’s jacket left the state government red-faced as it strengthened doubts about the quality of the jacket. There were reports that Karkare’s jacket had been discarded in Deonar dumping ground, but it has not been found.
Sources in the home department said the government is determined to put an end to this controversy and has decided to put the jackets under public scrutiny. Jain said Mumbai police chief D. Sivanandan is likely to conduct the exercise “within two to three days”.
Whether the demonstration of the jacket’s worthiness will be made before the media or the public Sivanandan will decide.
“It is up to him,” Jain said, adding the jacket used for demonstration will be from the same stock as Karkare’s.
There are various levels of bullet-proof jackets available as per the classification of firearms and the velocity of bullets. The police have so far neither revealed the kind nor the number of jackets they have. Last week, three clerks were suspended for misplacing the file containing the purchase information. The file has reportedly been recovered, but its contents are not known.
The PIL states that the jackets were purchased from NTB HiTech Ceramics, a firm that does not make specialised nylon-based armour needed for the jackets. The first batch was returned as it did not meet specifications. The firm supplied the ones currently in use in December 2004.