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Wise after cop was shot dead in Darjeeling, Bengal police to buy modern protective gear

Global tenders may be floated.

kolkata Updated: Oct 21, 2017 12:08 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times
Darjeeling,Bengal,Police
File photo of the casket carrying the body of Bengal police officer Amitava Malik. His death triggered intense controversy on the state of preparedness of the force.(HT Photo)

The killing of sub-inspector Amitava Malik in Darjeeling on October 13 allegedly by supporters of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) chief Bimal Gurung has become an eye-opener for the state police who has decided to buy modern, lightweight protective gear for the body and head.

The two gears that the state police directorate immediately wants to import include ultra-light bullet-proof jackets and bullet-proof headgears. The cost of a jacket varies between $350 to $800 and is worn under the shirt.

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According to an officer of the state police directorate, such sophisticated gears are available with the army and units such as Indo-Tibetian Border Police. Among the state forces, Greyhounds, the special task force created in Andhra Pradesh to fight left wing extremists, have them.

After the tragedy in Darjeeling, many alleged that the officer was not wearing bullet proof jacket and helmet and Opposition leaders claimed that these are so heavy that most cops try to avoid them.

“In any kind of ambush operations where there is a possibility of cross firing, the forces are divided into two teams. The first is the forward team, which executes the main combat. The second is the backup team that provides cover fire to the members of the forward team. After Malik’s death we feel that ultra-light bullet proof jackets and headgear are extremely important for members of forward teams,” said a senior official from the police directorate.

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According to this officer who chose to remain anonymous, bullet-proof jackets available with the state and Kolkata Police weigh seven to eight kilograms. Though there are strict instructions for teams going for combat to wear bullet-proof jackets, the weight of the existing jackets often act as a deterrent.

“It cannot be denied that the weight acts as an obstacle for swift movements. But the weight of the ultra-light jackets we want to import will be around one kilogram that will surely multiply use,” an officer said.

The officer also admitted that the existing helmets are not bullet- proof. “We have floated a proposal to import headgear that will protect the upper skull area and forehead from bullets. These look somewhat like the cricket skullcaps used in cricket,” he added.

These gears will be distributed to district police headquarters.

State Congress president and Lok Sabha MP, Adhir Chowdhury questioned the logic of sending officers to risky operations without proper protective gear when chief minister Mamata Banerjee herself is claiming that GJM has links with northeastern insurgent groups. “I do not understand why a young officer was sent to a high-risk assignment without proper protection. The state government is answerable,” he remarked.

Immediately after Malik’s death, state BJP president Dilip Ghosh claimed that the slain officer was deployed without proper training in combat in the hills.

First Published: Oct 21, 2017 12:08 IST