THE Union Home Ministry has come out with new specifications for ‘full-body protectors’ for its paramilitary troops, seeking suits that are “resistant to chemicals such as kerosene, petrol, diesel and Molotov cocktail liquid” and able to “withstand temperatures of minus 20 degrees Celsius to 55 degrees Celsius” for up to five hours.
Officials said while the suits would come in handy in all riot-like situations, the need for it was primarily felt due to the stone-pelting faced by CRPF men in Kashmir. The CRPF is the lead security force deployed to undertake law and order and counter-insurgency operations in J&K, along with the police and Army. While the CRPF already has a few full body protectors in J&K, these are far from enough.
Over 3,000 CRPF personnel have been injured in stone-pelting incidents and attacks by mobs in the Valley. This year, more than 600 incidents of stone-pelting had been recorded before the May 16 suspension of operations for Ramzan. There were 2,808 recorded incidents of stone-pelting against security forces in 2016, and 1,198 till November 2017.
The body protectors that the Home Ministry is looking for will have chest protectors, shoulder pads, upper arm guards, elbow and forearm guards, groin and shin guards. There would be three sizes, small, medium, large, with an overall weight of 6 kg, officials said.
“The protector shield of the full body protector shall withstand stab up to 65 joules and impact requirement of 100 joules. The shield should have a life of 6 years and should be made of camouflage/ disruptive pattern….,” as per the Home Ministry’s requirements.
A senior government officer said, “After trials, we have come out with detailed specifications. The purpose of the body protector would be to protect policeman from various types of missiles thrown at them by rioters. Such missiles range from stones or similar pieces of bricks/concrete, acid bulbs, bicycle chain, Molotov cocktails, firebombs made of petrol, diesel and kerosene….” Most of the CRPF men are hit either in the face, neck or legs during stone-pelting incidents. Several end up needing surgeries.
More troops of the CRPF and BSF are being moved to the Valley ahead of the Amarnath Yatra starting on June 28. Officials said they would deploy nearly 40,000 men to secure the route of the annual pilgrimage, which is expected to attract over three lakhs yatris this year.