Delhi Police has expedited the process to procure enough bulletproof jackets and helmets for its personnel to tackle a Pathankot-like scenario. Currently, the city police force with a strength of around 90,000 has roughly 250 such jackets, half of which are used by personnel posted in the high-security New Delhi district. The remaining 100 will not even suffice for the staff of 10 police stations in case of an exigency. Even these 250-odd jackets are heavy — around 11kg each — and obsolete, making it tough to keep them on for hours, a police officer said.
While the existing vests cost around Rs 40,000 a piece, the new ones, for which global tenders will be floated soon, are likely to cost Rs 1 lakh, an officer said. The ones to be ordered for commandos are expected to weigh not more than 5kg; for the cops on the streets, the vests will be lighter: just 2.5kg to 3kg. However, a bulletproof jacket without a similarly impregnable helmet is of no use, the officer added. Commissioner B S Bassi and Special Commissioner (Law and Order) Deepak Mishra have asked the police’s procurement department to expedite the process to procure the vests on a priority basis. Top officers are reportedly in touch with several Indian and global manufacturers.
The absence of bulletproof jackets or their poor quality has been known to have killed several cops in the country. While top Mumbai policeman Hemant Karkare was a victim during 26/11, Delhi cop Mohan Chand Sharma was shot during the 2008 Batla House encounter. In 2013, a Delhi court had expressed concern over the city’s ill-equipped policemen. The city police force was to procure bulletproof jackets for top-rank officers, those engaged in patrolling and on law and order duty and commandos handling riots and terror attacks.