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CAG had warned Dispur on bulletproof jackets’ efficacy in 2009

Bhaskar Kalita’s killing opens a Pandora’s Box

GUWAHATI, May 6: Even though there have been debates and controversies over the efficacy of bullet-proof jackets being worn by Assam Police personnel following the killing of Bhaskar Kalita, the Comptroller and Auditor General  (CAG) way back in 2009 had warned Dispur about the quality of such jackets.
The CAG in its report tabled in the Assam Assembly in 2009 stated that the pace of implementation of the modernization programme of the Assam Police was far from satisfactory despite the fact that Assam was classified as an “A” category State in terms of militants’ violence by the Centre. The CAG report identified inadequate procurement of bullet-proof jackets by Assam Police to be the contributing factors toward the increase in police casualties.
Questions are now being raised over the bullet-proof jackets supplied to the Assam Police after the death of a young officer Bhaskar Kalita in an encounter at Bordumsa in Tinsukia district on Friday. Kalita was killed in an encounter with ULFA (Independent) militants on Friday.
Sources said when Kalita’s body was brought to Tinsukia Civil Hospital, doctors who conducted the post-mortem witnessed two holes in his bullet-proof jacket.
“One bullet passed through the vest and hit Bhaskar Kalita in the chest, while the other hit him in the upper abdomen. Six bullets hit Kalita and not a single bullet was recovered from his body as all passed through. Shock and hemorrhage from the bullet injuries led to his death,” a source while quoting doctors said.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and DGP Kuladhar Saikia have already dropped hints of ordering an inquiry that may ascertain the quality of bullet-proof vests being procured for the State police personnel.
“We’ll see if there’re any lapses. Some questions strike us as to when the bulletproof vests were supplied and by which firm. We need to see everything minutely,” DGP Saikia said on Saturday.
Sources said Bhaskar Kalita was seemingly wearing a half ‘bullet-proof’ jacket which cannot protect one if bullets are fired from a close range by highly sophisticated weapons. Going by injuries sustained by Kalita, it can be argued that he was fired from a very close range. The bullets recovered could be either from an AK-47 or an advanced Tavor X95 rifle.
“There are various kinds of bullet-proof jackets/vests with various degrees of effectiveness against various weapons. And not wearing the right kind of jacket might prove to be fatal,” the source said.