It took two incidents of death to wake up the Delhi Police from a deep stupor. In a short span of one week, the police department lost two of its valuable personnel to shooting incidents. The mishaps could have been prevented if the policemen were armed in bulletproof vests. In a better-late-than-never move, the Delhi Police has finally decided to buy more such jackets and equip its staff better. City Police commissioner BS Bassi has said the jackets are meant for officers engaged in patrolling, and commandos handling riots and terror attacks.
On January 11, Karamveer Singh, a constable with the Delhi Police was shot dead by two men on a motorcycle in Delhi’s Alipur area. A home guard, who was patrolling with Singh, was injured too. The duo had stopped two men riding a motor bike after receiving a tip off that they were smuggling liquor. A day before, a similar incident occurred in Seelampur. Thankfully, there was no casualty in this case.
Delhi’s police force can never be sure what it’s dealing with on the desolate areas bordering the state. It’s not just the sophisticated gun-yielding goons that they need to worry about. The illegal katta, or desi gun, which can be bought for as low as Rs 500, makes every law-breaker a dangerous suspect.
It worries me to see the cops manning my neighbourhood with a mere lathi in the dead of the night. The lathi, usually a long one, can only chase and whoop the petty bootleggers. If confronted by armed men, the cops have just their instinct to act on. Bulletproof vests will definitely secure their safety, and give the personnel the much-needed confidence in dealing crime.
There have been other instances, where the lack of any bulletproof vest killed cops in the city. Just a week before the Alipur incident, a Delhi Police’s Special Cell constable accidentally shot himself during a raid. The victim, Anand Khatri, while trying to catch the suspect, lost his balance and fell, and the AK-47 gun that was already cocked, accidentally went off, killing him. In the 2008 Batla House encounter, inspector Mohan Chand Sharma was killed by an assailant’s bullet. He was not wearing any bulletproof vest. The Delhi Court had questioned the risk of taking on terrorists without proper arms and bulletproof vests.
The move to buy safety jackets for its staff should’ve come much, much earlier. The national capital is always on high-alert. It’s sad that policemen had to lose their lives on line of duty due the lack of proper safety measures. A disturbing statistic provided by media reports last week revealed that the Delhi Police with a strength of around 90,000 personnel, has only 250 such jackets. The existing jackets are so heavy at 11kg each, that wearing it for hours can be tedious job. If there is a siege-like situation in the city tomorrow, it’s likely that police personnel will prefer taking off the move-restraining vest than getting bogged down by its weight.
The old-fashioned vests cost around Rs 40,000 a piece, while the new ones are likely to cost Rs 1 lakh. The new jackets, meant for commando operation will weigh 5kg; and the ones meant for staff posted on the streets, it will be lighter at 2.5-3kg. This move must come across as big news to the bravehearts, who risk their lives so that the city can sleep in peace.