The unfortunate death of Bhaskar Kalita, the officer-in-charge of the Bordumsa police station in an encounter with ULFA(I) militants has raised questions over the quality of bullet-proof jackets supplied to the police force of Assam. Kalita’s death has even prompted Assam Public Works, an NGO, to lodge an FIR with the CID of Assam Police for an inquiry into reports about procurement of substandard bullet-proof vests for the police. There are two or three aspects of the bullet-proofing of jackets and vests that have to be closely examined. The first pivots on the assumption that bullet-proof vests and jackets can be absolutely bullet-proof regardless of the kind of bullets used, the distance from which they are fired and the quality of the jackets or vests. This is not true. The effectiveness of a bullet-proof jacket or vest gets reduced depending on the calibre of the bullet fired and the distance from which the bullet was fired. There is the AK-47 bullet test which is deemed to be common for trials. Recently, 1,430 bullet-proof jackets out of the 4,800 received by the Maharashtra police were returned to the manufacturer because they failed the AK-47 bullet tests during trials. In a country where corruption is so rampant, one has to keep in mind the fact that no supplier of bullet-proof jackets will ever agree to a test where a bullet-proof jacket supplied by him is fired on when he is wearing it.
Levels of Bullet-proofing