Saturday, January 16, 2010

Indian Public Concerned About Internal Security as Corrupt Forces Prevail

On 26 November 2008, Maharashtra Police Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare and nine other police personnel were killed in an encounter with terrorists in Mumbai. In this connection, charges were leveled that Karkare fell victim to bullets of terrorists due to the sub-standard bulletproof jacket he wore. The Maharashtra Government ordered an investigation into the matter related to the purchase of jackets.

Conflicting Reports
What is surprising is that the jacket removed from the body of Karkare went missing and later a cleaner admitted that he had thrown the jacket into the filth dump of a hospital after putting it in a plastic cover. Now, conflicting reports emanate about the loss and recovery of the jacket. The file pertaining to the purchase of jackets went missing from the department concerned and action is still being taken against certain personnel.
After the incident, keeping in view the surge in terrorist activity in the northeast region and incidents of violence being carried out by Maoists, the union Home Ministry had taken a decision for the purchase of 59,000 bulletproof jackets for paramilitary forces.
In this context, a tender advisory committee headed by director general of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and a technical review committee under the overall supervision of the director general of the Bureau of Police Research and Development were constituted.
The task of testing of samples invited along with tenders was entrusted to the Defense Research Development Organization (DRDO) and the Terminal Ballistic Missile Laboratory (TBML). When the matter pertaining to the test report and approval of tenders was under the consideration of the tender advisory committee, complaints about the bulletproof jackets started pouring into the Home Ministry. So far so, a CD of the dubious conversation between the TBML joint director and the representative of the company that submitted the tenders found its way into the Home Ministry. Thereafter, union Home Minister P. Chidambaram rejected all the tenders and ordered a probe into the entire matter and directed that action should be taken against the DRDO.

Combating Maoists and Terrorists
It is a tragedy that in spite of the warnings of the Mumbai attack a year ago and red alert sounded in the wake of terror attacks carried out in various parts of the country, bulletproof jackets have not been purchased so far. No lesson was learnt even after the death of Hemant Karkare and his colleagues, and certain officials are still not desisting from bungling with regard to the quality of bulletproof jackets and purchase thereof.
Now tenders will be invited and new samples will be tested by the DRDO afresh and it is not known when these bulletproof jackets will be purchased and when the same will be supplied to security forces. Until then the conditions of playing with the lives of soldiers engaged in combating Maoists and terrorists will continue to prevail because of these corrupt elements. These security forces will not lag behind in ensuring the security of the general public and the country as a whole.

Lapse in Internal Security
What sort of stance and negligence will be adopted by bureaucrats was actually witnessed by former Defense Minister George Fernandez, himself visiting Siachen. He was the first Indian defense minister to visit Siachen and he saw that woolen clothes and other material needed to wear by soldiers deployed in that region was insufficient. Charges of corruption were also leveled with regard to food articles supplied for use in that area. Fernandez had immediately taken steps for the supply of sufficient quantity of woolen clothes and other suitable material for the soldiers deployed at the higher snow-bound terrain.
It is but natural for the general public to feel concerned about the internal security as bulletproof jackets are not purchased for paramilitary forces or corrupt practices are noticed in their purchase. Those in power may be making claims of increased in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), yet until the public life becomes secure how could the common man transact his business fearlessly? What is the use of sounding a red alert in the context of the possibility of terrorist attacks in such circumstances?

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