26/11, 7 years on: Maharashtra police has only 2,000 bulletproof vests
One of the issues highlighted after the 26/11 terror strikes was the substandard bulletproof vests that the police had. mid-day has found that till date the Maharashtra Police has been unable to buy bulletproof vests for its entire force. They have managed to get only 2,000 vests for state police personnel who number 2 lakh, in the past seven years.
The terror strikes of 26/11 killed several senior police officers, like the then ATS chief Hemant Karkare, Additional Commissioner of Police Ashok Kamte and encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar. The police had found that one of the reasons the officers were killed despite wearing bulletproof jackets was the substandard quality of the jackets.
mid-day has reported on the substandard vests several times. The government had decided to modernize its ammunition and security equipment for the Mumbai Police after the 26/11 attacks. But it has been learnt in a Right to Information (RTI) query, that till date the Maharashtra police has managed to get only 2,000 bulletproof vests.
“There was a scam while buying bomb suits in 2011 in which the government had placed an order to buy 80 bomb squad suits costing R6 crore. Since then, it seems the government is going very slow on buying bullet proof vests,” RTI activist Chetan Kothari told mid-day after he acquired the information.
It is learnt that officers are worried to place orders for buying anything, as each one feels if something goes wrong, his name will join the scam-tainted list. The process of acquiring the suits is very slow. “In March 2011 and August 2011, the Maharashtra police had got around 2,000 bulletproof vests from the Home Department in Delhi, after which we were not able to buy any bulletproof vests,” said a police officer.
For the first time now, the state home department is in the process of buying the bulletproof vests. But, nobody knows how long it will take to buy the 5,000 vests that they plan to buy. “We have floated tenders to buy vests and after the tender process we will buy them,” said a senior officer of Mumbai police.
Acquisition in the past seven years
The Maharashtra police has managed to buy 7.62 mm SLR rifles, 5.56 Insas rifles, AK 47 rifles, Glock 26 pistols, MP 5s, single shot grenade launchers, UBGL grenades, sniper rifles, 9 MM carbine machines, automatic pistols, 9 MM pistols, and tear smoke shells. They have also got ball ammunition, AK-47 magazines, several cartridges, gunpowder and plastic bullets, which are used for practice.