Black Wednesday also brought to light how Mumbai cops fell victims to faulty helmets and useless bullet proof jackets. The out-dated protective gear they now use can save them only from stone-pelting, not assault of sophisticated guns. Fourteen police personnel laid down their lives while battling the terrorists who held Mumbai to ransom from Wednesday night. The entire force was greatly disadvantaged by heavy bulletproof jackets that didn’t halt bullets from AK 47s, and helmets that provided no real protection. The danger of this was brought home by two of Wednesday’s most tragic events – bullets penetrating ACP Ashok Kamte’s head in spite of his helmet, and ATS chief Hemant Karkare succumbing to bullet injuries on his chest in spite of his bulletproof jacket. In the past, there have been small but significant example of how ill equipped the city cops are. Take a look at this – these are exclusive visuals of ACP Ashok Kamte with his men ready to take on any riot like situation during the Raj Thackeray episode when one of the walkie-talkies used Ashok Kamte stopped working and he lost his cop at his sub-ordinate. And if the state had taken these instances seriously, may be, just may be city cops would have been better equipped to face the attack of the terrorists. Out of the 885, 109 bulletproof jackets of the Mumbai police cannot be used. According to officers in the armoury department, jackets are often returned smelly and unwashed after use. Helmets given to cops are effective only against stone-pelting, not bullets from sophisticated firearms. On Wednesday night, the terrorists roamed around freely with their MP-6s, AK 47s and carbines, as the policemen looked on haplessly with their outdated .303 rifles. Our reporters, who were on the streets even as hundreds of policemen combated a handful of terrorists, saw first-hand how ill-equipped and ill-trained our men in khaki were while dealing with the terror. And may be that’s why top city cops are now speaking about the need to provide them with better equipments. According to police sources, the police budget is very low and so the best equipment cannot be bought. But if that’s the reason the state is giving for not providing the state police force with the arms and ammunition, then may be the CM VRD needs to stop spending an odd Rs. 5000 in the name of metro and mono rails and Rs. 5000 Crores in the name of scientific development of the Deonar dumping ground – and instead make the men in uniforms better equipped with modern weapons, higher salaries, better working conditions and thorough training to fight the new-age terrorists. Wednesday’s Night of Terror, in which scores of people including 14 policemen were killed, has completely shown how defenseless Mumbai is and exposed the state police’s underbelly. The state police have always been soft, vulnerable and even fools don’t believe in the claim that the force is second-best to only the Scotland Yard. The state government must not think of this as just another terror strike to be investigated and then forgotten till the next time. This is the frightening face of the future. This is war. We have to win it. If VRD can’t do it, he should quit office and let someone else do it.
June 19, 2006
February 5, 2015