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Faulty helmet glare on CRPF

An officer has complained to the PMO that the paramilitary force is procuring headgear that cannot withstand bullets from assault rifles

By Imran Ahmed Siddiqui in New Delhi
  • Published 19.05.19, 12:37 AM
  • Updated 19.05.19, 12:37 AM
  • a min read
CRPF Jawans stand guard at the site of the suicide bomb attack at Lethpora area, in Pulwama district of south Kashmir on February 15. (PTI picture)

A complaint that the CRPF is procuring substandard helmets and patkas for its troops in Maoist and militant zones has surfaced at a time Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been seeking votes in the name of national security and the Pulwama martyrs.

A CRPF officer posted in Jammu and Kashmir has complained to the Prime Minister’s Office that the paramilitary force is procuring headgear that cannot withstand bullets from assault rifles like the AK-47, the weapon of choice for Kashmir militants, Union home ministry sources said.

They added that the complainant had emphasised that the helmets being procured offered protection only against 9mm bullets, fired from ordinary revolvers and rifles.

Officials said the home ministry had sought a report from the CRPF brass and another from the chief vigilance officer of the paramilitary force.

The controversy comes at a time the government claims to be doing everything possible to improve the security of the CRPF in Kashmir after a suicide bomber killed 40 of its personnel on a highway in the state’s Pulwama area in February.

“The complainant requested the PMO to stop the procurement of the 9mm-bullet-resistant helmets, being bought from a private company, alleging they are substandard,” a ministry official said.

“He further alleged that the same company had earlier supplied bullet-proof jackets to Mumbai police and Rajasthan police that failed safety tests.”

A home ministry official revealed the scale of the shortage of bullet-proof helmets in the CRPF, saying it has only 5,466 helmets against the authorised number of 122,480 — a shortfall of more than 95 per cent.

Several BSF and CRPF jawans have in recent months publicly alleged deep-rooted corruption in the paramilitary forces, saying they went without proper food in the camps while superior officers sold off part of the rations meant for the troops.

A senior CRPF officer said: “An inquiry (into the helmet procurement) is on. The procurement process is yet to be finalised and any allegation of favouring any particular firm is misplaced and unsubstantiated.”

The CRPF is the country’s leading central paramilitary force for counter-insurgency and anti-Maoist operations. It has nearly 70,000 personnel in Jammu and Kashmir.