GUWAHATI, Aug 21 - Amidst volleys of claims and counter-claims, the State Government continue to keep the findings of the inquiry report vis-�-vis efficacy of bullet-resistant (bullet-proof) vests close to its chest, even as the process of procurement of around 550 new light-weight bullet proof vests for Assam Police personnel has begun.
Many believe that the ambiguity surrounding the quality of bullet-proof vests worn by the Assam Police personnel would only affect the morale of the foot soldiers deployed in volatile areas in an adverse manner.
Significantly, despite the one-man inquiry committee of Additional Chief Secretary Kumar Sanjay Krishna submitting its report on August 10, the details of the enquiry report have not even been shared with the Assam Police headquarters.
The silence on the part of the Home department has only added to the confusion.
With a section claiming that the bullet proof vests, which were procured in 2011-12, did not meet the standard guidelines, police top brass has refuted any such possibility asserting that the vests that were procured in 2011-12 was tested in the central forensic science laboratory in Chandigarh before being handed over for their use.
�All the guidelines mandated by the Ministry of Home Affairs were taken care of during the procurement process,� sources at the Assam Police headquarters disclosed.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had ordered the inquiry after Bhaskar Kalita, the officer-in-charge of Bordumsa police station, was killed in an encounter with the militants during which bullets pierced through his bullet-resistant vest.
�And if the jackets were really not up to the standard, why is the Home department not requisitioning them back? They must do so because sub-standard vest could result in more casualties of similar nature. The Home department should clear the air at the earliest,� a top Assam Police official told The Assam Tribune.
�Imagine the thought process of the policemen who are not sure about the quality of the safety vests they are wearing in extreme conditions,� he said.
The confusion surrounding the quality of the bullet-proof vests got reignited when activist Dulal Bora, quoting an RTI reply alleged discrepancy in the procurement process and said that it was senior IPS officer AK Jha (now Special Director General of Police, CID) who supervised the process.
However, when contacted, Jha said the procurement process was done as per the laid down rules and that he, after processing the file, had sent it for the approval of the Home as well as the Finance departments.
�I do not remember the details. It is for the Assam Police headquarters to answer,� Jha said.
Director General of Assam Police Kula Saikia could not be reached for his comments on the matter.
Further, despite several attempts, top officials of the State Government too refrained from making any comment.