Police officers claim police stations have only riot gear; DIG says in tense situations ATS, IRB staff are deployed
PANJIM: With barely one dozen bulletproof vests and helmets at their disposal, Goa Police remains unprepared to tackle any major terror attack on the State.
The long drawn plans to arm the force with life saving gadgets, which could prove crucial in emergencies, appears to be hanging fire with none of the police stations across the State having any such equipment.
Given this, the 6000 strong police force is hardly equipped to counter any terror attack in the State, which is always on alert by virtue of it being a tourism destination, with the alert heightened during the Christmas-New Year week. Police stations in the coastal belt too are bereft of such protective gear.
“We are asked to be prepared for any threat,
eventuality and are trained to deal with it. But police stations do not have a single bullet-proof jacket and helmet, expect for riot gears,” said an official in charge of a police station, which has some of the most sensitive areas in its jurisdiction.
His colleague echoed similar sentiments when he said that the security of the policemen is at stake in absence of such crucial equipment. “The number of events that require police presence is on the rise but when it comes to providing basic safety facilities, all concerned are tightfisted,” he rued.
Herald contacted Deputy Inspector General of Police Vimal Gupta who said that the duty of local police is performing normal law and order and prime investigation. “When we anticipate a problem or during any stage when we feel the need for the equipment, we reinforce them by deploying special staff from IRB as well as from ATS. They are well-equipped. The police stations also have sufficient number of riot gears,” he stated.
Interestingly the Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad (BDDS) has just 11 bullet-proof jackets and helmets, which are allotted to the Anti-Terrorist Squad and Quick Response Teams (QRTs) when required. As per information available with Herald, the BDDS does not have on record the make and model of the bullet-proof jackets.
The equipment falls short during major events when Goa witnesses lakhs of visitors, and the State has to depend on its neighbours. Maharashtra, Karnataka, Delhi and Gujarat are states from where the protective gear is usually borrowed. During the 8th BRICS Summit held in Goa last year, the State police had borrowed additional bullet-proof jackets and bulletproof helmets from Delhi.
Now with the FIFA U-17 World Cup inching closer, Goa has again contacted its other States and Karnataka and Telangana have agreed to lend some of their protective gear.
Tender for equipment under process
The State last December had issued a tender inviting bidders to supply 1000 full body protectors, polycarbonate shields, helmets and polycarbonate lathis. However, the bid was not finalised with DIG Vimal Gupta citing continuous code of conducts. “There were codes of conduct for the general elections, panchayats and by-polls, because of which the tendering delayed. However, it will soon be finalised,” he said.
Documents available with Herald reveal that the e-tendering is in progress and the opening of bids is pending.
Two bidders have applied for the e-tender out of which one bidder has applied only for bullet-proof helmets and the other has applied for bullet-proof jackets and bullet-proof helmets.
The State police also tendered for two bullet-proof vehicles, and 40 and 80 numbers of door frame metal detectors and hand held metal detectors respectively.