Last Monday, Baljit Singh, a brave Punjab police officer dared three terrorists who entered the police station in Gurdaspur to come out and face him man to man. Within minutes, Singh was dead. He took a bullet to the head.
World-Class Body Armour Made In India:But Not For Our Cops
He was wearing neither a helmet nor an Indian Army innovation called the bulletproof patka, that gives Sikh men limited protection from gunfire. Singh’s courage, or for that matter, the courage of the Punjab policemen around him cannot take away from the fact that guts alone cannot defeat highly trained terrorists armed to the gills.
Some policemen of the Punjab wearing neither helmets not bullet proof vests engaged the terrorists with primitive Self-Loading Rifles, which was no match for the firepower of the enemy’s AK-47s. A short distance away, burly cops of the police force moved up and down a roof throwing grenades at the terrorists and then ran for their lives before the grenades exploded.
When the Punjab Police’s Special Weapons and Tactics teams arrived, they were seen rushing to take up positions wearing their knee pads. They had not worn either their helmets or their bullet proof jackets.
Every time it has been repeating, in the case of Mumbai terror attack also same thing happened. It doesn’t take rocket science to understand that a helmet designed to stop a cricket ball can never stop a high velocity round from an AK-47, the infantry weapon of choice not just for terrorists but also Indian armed forces.
Why our policemen less protected than soldiers fighting the First World War a century ago? Some don’t know that India is considered a world leader in body armor technology.
Bullet proof jackets and helmets built to the highest specifications of personal protection are not just built in India but exported to more than 230 forces in over 100 countries. The British, German, Spanish and French Armies and police forces stretching from Japan in the East to the west of the US are among them.
According to MKU Chairman Manoj Gupta, “Most of our police forces and reserve police mostly equipped for anti-riot protection, not for anti-terrorist operations. There has to be deep thinking over this by policy makers.”
According to some estimates, there is requirement of nearly 50,000 bullet proof kits in Indian police forces but there’s no clear indicator since individual states handle their own law and order decisions and rarely spell out a requirement until they finally come out with a tender.
Companies like MKU, not only are they manufacturing in India, they are exporting their equipment to highly discerning foreign customers while looking to expand their footprint across the globe.
For the policeman or policewoman on ground, many things change, many remain the same. Bamboo shields, trusty bamboo lathi, 303 and Self-Loading Rifle are constant. Other common thing is courage that our police display on the ground. After all, that’s all they have to take on a determined enemy who are better trained, better equipped and perhaps better motivated.