Thursday, January 23, 2014

5 years after 26/11, 2 lakh cops have only 2,000 bulletproof jackets

MUMBAI: Five years after the worst-ever terror attack on the city, it was found that the crisis-ridden home department was able to procure a meagre 2,000 bulletproof jackets for the two-lakh-odd police personnel in the state.

After the terror attack on November 26, 2008, it was found that high-ranking police officials Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte and Vijay Salaskar were killed in the attack as they were not wearing bulletproof jackets.

"It's a fact that the debate over procuring high-quality bulletproof jackets began only after it was confirmed that the state lost top police officials because they were not wearing bulletproof jackets," a senior IPS official said.

When the issue of acute shortage of bulletproof jackets was raised during the winter session of the state legislature, home minister R R Patil made the assurance that the home department would procure at least 5,000 bulletproof jackets as early as possible and that no police personnel would die because of non-availability of a bulletproof jacket.

Leader of the opposition Eknath Khadse said the state government had spent a large amount on the modernization of the police force, but its priorities were wrong.

"It spent money on buying swanky vehicles, which have not been used even once after their procurement. Our efforts to procure bulletproof jackets and install a CCTV network in the metropolis are grossly inadequate," Khadse said.

Khadse said if state bureaucrats and the DGP's office were unable to procure bulletproof jackets, the Centre should be approached. "We should entrust the task to the centre and procure the bullet proof jackets from such agencies, which have been approved by the central security agencies,'' Khadse said.

A home department official said that on several occasions tendering to procure the jackets was started, but no decision was taken owing to disputes over quality.

The home department even failed to procure bomb disposal suits despite the entire payment of Rs 8 crore having been made.

On the distribution of the 2000 bullet proof jackets, the official said 544 have been given to the Mumbai police, 102 to Navi Mumbai police, 104 each for Thane, Pune, Nagpur, 50 each for Nashik, Aurangabad and Solapur, 20 each for Thane (rural), Pune (Rural) and Nashik (rural), 362 for Force-One, 250 for Gadchiroli and 100 for Gondia and 100 for buffer stock of SRPF.

Jacket distribution:

City: 544

Force One: 362

Gadchiroli: 250

Navi Mumbai, Thane, Nagpur, Pune: 104 each