26th November 2008. Mumbai. A few of our policemen died in a hail of terrorist bullets. The bulletproof jackets they were wearing didn't save them. In another case, a famous cop was not wearing a bulletproof vest, and was killed, and now the Maharashtra government has submitted its affidavit to the courts investigating the incidents.
According to that affidavit - "The bullet-proof jackets had been ordered by the Maharashtra government way back in 2001 and could withstand bullets fired only from 9 mm pistols and carbines."
These shocking admissions were made in an affidavit filed by Deputy Commissioner of Police Vijaysingh Jadhav on behalf of the Maharashtra government in the Bombay High Court on Wednesday, the day when a special court concluded hearing arguments in that 26th November terror attacks.
Similar jackets, which are not meant to withstand fire from AK47 or and SLR, are used even by the "military forces", the affidavit said. Great! So, what are they supposed to withstand? Water guns? Pea shooters? Firecrackers?
The state government told the High Court in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) that the jackets used during 26/11 were ordered in a time when the "threat perception" for the metropolis had "not taken into account an attack that would include simultaneous strikes and civilians held as hostages." Let's put that a little more honestly - "We never thought we'd get attacked, so we didn't give a fuck what we wore". What do civilians held as hostages have to do with bulletproof vests not being bulletproof? Also, simultaneous strikes. How many cops do we have? Just one? Don't we have simultaneous traffic lights?
To the question whether the jackets were of standard or not, the answer was that it could not have saved Karkare because the officer sustained injuries to his shoulder and neck, which were not covered by the jacket of standard design, the affidavit pointed out. Oh, great. So let's forget the bulletproof jackets for now, and let's focus on the foolproof bullets that aimed away from the areas the jacket covered. Brilliant.
Way back in 2008, we had police officers coming forward and telling us about jackets procured by the police through which "every single bullet went through"! Yes, even when shot from a long distance.
http://www.mid-day.com/news/2008/dec/011208-Mumbai-bullet-encounter-specialist-Vijay-Salaskar-Mumbai-terror-blast-bullet-proof-jacket.htm. In other words, these fools never really had any bulletproof jackets!
Let's take a step aside and ask ourselves how much of a deep rooted incompetence this has exposed. First of all, "carbines" were probably last used in World War 1. These are the long barreled guns with smooth insides, that don't even put revolutions on the bullets going out. Who needs protection from these antiques? This is not some museum coming alive every night. Even local gangs have more powerful guns these days! So, what kind of morons are sitting around taking these purchase decisions that are clearly completely useless? What kind of a brainless system do we have to be endorsing in order to spend money on things that have absolutely no meaning in buying?
Terrorists are efficient because they have to be. They need to cause maximum damage with minimum investment. So they get the best weapons, choose the fittest and mentally sickest amongst themselves, prepare to die, and go in all guns blazing, pun intended. To oppose them, we don't need any of their madness, but simply a mechanism that works. We need people that can shoot back, a chain of command that knows what commands to issue to whom and when, trained people who can pull the trigger when their guns are pointing at the targets, and machines that work. Period.
While under attack is not the time for chaos and confusion in the ranks, miscommunication amongst various government organizations, and missed opportunities. It is never a good time for any of this, but if we test any of our government controlled "systems" we will find them not working.
We gave our government offices computers a long time ago. For sure, at the very least, ten years ago. The Regional Transport Offices are amongst these. The police departments of various states even have claims on their websites that they are proud to be part of many new e-government initiatives. (Example: http://tnpolice.gov.in/chiefmsg.html). Ask a traffic policeman if he can pull out his walkie talkie, bark a number, and get the name and address of the owner of any vehicle he just saw running over ten people. The answer is NO! As incredulous as it may seem, there is no access to that simple bit of information! There is a whole official procedure to follow before this gap is bridged! That is where our government monkeys are, with or without computers. Fuckers just don't know what to do, except blackmail the public into paying bribes for the simplest tasks, and maintain total bankruptcy of functional ideas.
Of course this points to corruption, incompetence, and a host of other endemic problems, like apathy, non-action, and finally, to sum up - Indianness. It is time we defined this for ourselves, since we seem to have a hard time acknowledging that "Indianness" is indeed all the above rolled into one. This is a word that deserves to be in every dictionary. Only we Indians can fuck up something of importance so badly, that even after lives are lost, we're grappling not with the gravity of the situation, but with the process of concluding a "matter".
I'm not entirely unhappy policemen died, because most of them are corrupt bastards. The majority of them are unfit, insincere, not interested in service of any kind unless it is performed to obtain a bribe, and are just puppets of politicians. It is just fantastic that their incompetence in Mumbai was exposed by terrorists in such a short period of time, instead of our public interest, the judicial process, the media, and our Indianness combined spending the next fifty years telling us that our cops, their jackets, their guns, and their stupidity is a complete waste for the nation.
Are our policemen dispensable? Clearly, they are. Nothing of note has happened now that we have lost a few of them in terrorist and Maoist attacks. Their deaths haven't made any pockets of civilization more in danger, or lacking protection. The police forces of almost all states are nothing but drains on the budget, magnified several times by their incompetence and immunity from speedy prosecution. So, why do we need them, if they are not impeccable in their duties and manners?
Where it most mattered - doing their duty, they were found wanting, and if they are that inefficient, they can die. For heavens sake, there is nothing heroic about dying in a war you're not even fit enough to fight in, so let's stop making heroes out of unfit, uniformed thugs we hire to do our dirty jobs and look the other way when they take bribes, grow fat, and kill people in fake "encounters". Police custodial killings in India are rampant. Now we have them selling dead bodies. How low can these weasels go? It's wrong to generalize the entire police force of this country thus, but if they can take collective pride, they can also take collective blame.
It is absolutely shameful that this country supplies substandard equipment to personnel employed to do critical jobs, but we don't need to take any moral responsibility for the personnel themselves being substandard. If there are IPS officers facing charges of molestation of minors and abetting suicide, they can bloody well figure out how bulletproof their own jackets need to be and they can shoot the pigs that supplied faulty equipment. They once again failed to do their jobs - that's all there is to it. And the same can be said of many, many Indians who're not earning their keep. It's just part of our Indianness. When we get bitten because of it, that will simply add to ... what else? Indianness!