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Delhi police does not have any bullet-proof helmets
NAVTAN KUMAR  New Delhi | 11th Jul 2015

Delhi Police does not have a single bullet-proof helmet, putting a question mark on the preparedness of the force to deal with a potential terrorist strike like the 2008 attack in Mumbai.

The reply to an RTI query reveals that Delhi Police has a total of 257 bullet-proof jackets, in various police stations, and no bullet-proof helmets.

The New Delhi district, under which there are seven police stations, has the maximum number of jackets (125), while the Crime Branch has the fewest, 11. Police station wise, Parliament Street police station has 41 bullet proof jackets. Sources say that there is no point having jackets without helmets, as it leaves the most vulnerable part of the body exposed during encounters.

Bullet-proof jackets and helmets are crucial in anti-terrorism operations. There have been debates on the issue after the death of senior IPS officer Hemant Karkare during the Mumbai attacks. Some say his bullet-proof jacket was of poor quality. Another theory suggests that he was wearing a bullet-proof helmet, but apparently he lifted it to receive a call on his cellphone, and it was at this moment that a bullet hit his head.

"This is quite shocking," said Anil Sood, president of the NGO Chetna, who filed the RTI petition. "God forbid, if anything like the Mumbai attack happens in Delhi, half of the police force may be lost while collecting bullet-proof jackets from different police stations. Ideally, these should be kept at one point so that they may be collected easily in emergency situations. Moreover, in the absence of helmets, it will be very difficult to carry out operations. Our forces will bear the brunt of such an attack."

Similar observations were made following the death of Delhi Police inspector Mohan Chand Sharma in the 2008 Batla House encounter. The inspector did not wear a bullet-proof jacket. A judge hearing the case asked whether the incident was a misadventure or lack of professionalism.

Sood also questions the preparedness of the Quick Response Teams. "They may not even be in a position to move, as their vehicles and drivers are outsourced. Many of the team members are deployed with nothing but batons. There is an urgent need to modernise the police force, which would also boost their morale. Instead of providing on-the-job training, personnel must undergo rigorous training before taking up an assignment or role," he said, adding he has written to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in this regard.

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