New Delhi: As counter-terror and counter-militancy operations take an increasing toll on security personnel, a parliamentary panel has asked the government to upgrade the quality of body armour and provide them to all paramilitary forces deployed in combat zones.
The recommendation was made by the Department-Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Home Affairs headed by senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Venkaiah Naidu in its latest report.
"The Committee is of the considered view that the level of body armour (bullet-proof jackets) provided to the central paramilitary forces should be raised to level IV category (of upgraded quality, able to provide protection against hard steel core ammunition)," the panel said in its report tabled in parliament April 27.
"The ministry should make concerted efforts to ensure that the next procurement takes place on time as per level IV category, so that those could be used by our forces in combat operations," the panel added.
The issue of upgrading the quality of bullet proof jackets for paramilitary personnel cropped up in the panel`s meeting March 22 when one of its members suggested the term `Body Armour` for bullet proof jackets, saying that the latter was not a right terminology for it as there is no jacket which is completely bullet proof.
Responding to the member`s suggestion, home ministry officials conceded to the panel that "the name `Bullet Proof Jacket` is a misnomer and instead it should be called `Bullet Resistant Jacket` or `Body Armour` because no bullet proof jacket can be 100 percent resistant to all types of bullets at all times".
A jacket resists a bullet up to the level of protection for which it has been designed, the ministry officials said.
The officials told the panel that the jackets, chosen and adopted by the ministry for central paramilitary forces, are "light weight bullet proof jackets" technically known as Level III protection jacket.
Such jackets are able to resist the bullets fired by 7.62 mm Self loading Rifles and 9 mm carbine pistols besides the soft lead core ammunition but not the hard steel core ammunition, fired from 7.62 mm x 39 mm AK-47 rifles, ministry officials said.
The home ministry adopted the Level III jackets for paramilitary personnel after it was approved by an expert panel headed by director general for the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) and comprising members from various central paramilitary forces and Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi.
Ministry officials said that Level IV category of jackets provide protection against the hard core steel ammunitions, and that the BPRD is still working on various qualitative specifications for the Level IV jackets. They hope the ministry would be able to procure the Level IV jackets from the next procurement batch onwards.
The panel has asked the government to expedite the development for Level IV jackets and procure the same expeditiously.