Is Assam Police prepared for Counter Insurgency Operations?
With the killing of Bordumsa Police Station in-charge, Bhaskar Kalita, serious questions have been raised regarding the preparedness of the police force during counter insurgency operations. The big question is how prepared is Assam Police for counter insurgency operations? What are the weapons that personnel carry during such operations?
A senior official in the Assam Police headquarters, talking to G Plus said, “Counter insurgency is not fought on the basis of weapons; Assam Police has already defeated the ULFA.”
According to him, ULFA was defeated because the intellectuals and the right thinking citizens of the state took a stand against the inhuman acts committed by the rebel organisation.
The official said that back in those days, Assam Police had minimum technology to fight the ultras. The army was there but no insurgency can ever be defeated by the army solely. It was always the police which spearheaded the campaign. The army provides assistance with extra manpower to augment the police force.
According to him, even in Kashmir it is the police which gathers the primary information and then, with the help of the army, fight the terrorists.
Talking about the weapons Assam Police has at present for counter insurgency operations, the official said, “We have what is needed: AK-47, MP5 Rifle, Glock Rifle, Insas Rifle, Ghatak Rifle and 5.56 mm Excalibur Rifle.”
Ghatak and Excalibur are the recent additions. The Excalibur is an advanced form of the Insas and the Ghatak is an Indian version of the AK-47.
The official said, “The AK-47 is the best rifle in the world for any counter insurgency operation and we have it in abundance.”
Given the level firepower that the militants have in Assam, what Assam Police has is more or less sufficient to tackle them, the official said. He said, “We also have mortars, LMGs, HMGs and we have the army and the CRPF to help us.”
The official said that at present the militants have been weakened. Therefore, they work under one umbrella organisation backed by China.
They enter India through the small segment in the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh-Nagaland belt bordering Myanmar and also operate from that area.
With sophisticated weapons the militants work under United Liberation Front of Western South East Asia (UNLFW), an umbrella group which has five rebel groups as members viz United Liberation Front of Assam (Independent), Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang), Kamatapur Liberation Organization (KLO) and National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), Songbijit.
But the official claimed that the Assam Police is totally preared for any kind of counter insurgency operations.
Assam Police not using AI during insurgency operations
The Assam Police is yet to adopt more modern technologies; it lacks the use of artificial intelligence (AI) during counter insurgency operations.
A source in the Assam Police special branch said, “We do not use any artificial intelligence during counter insurgency operations at present.”
Another senior official of the Assam Police Radio Organisation (APRO) revealed that all the top security agencies in the world are adopting artificial intelligence technology during operations but Assam Police is not yet trained in it.
After receiving inputs about the rebels, Assam Police personnel carry arms and ammunition and reach the spot. That’s how sometimes they are even ambushed, the APRO official said.
He explained that how the police need to first find the geo-coordinates of the rebels - basically the latitude and the longitude of their location. Snipers should be deployed across the area and even drones could be used to follow the movement of the rebels. Thereafter, the team of security personnel should hit the target from a distance.
Nothing of this sort is happening now, the official said. Assam Police had procured huge numbers of drones which are not being used, the official complained.
Another police official from Assam Police headquarters said, “All these happen only in films.”
Quality of bullet proof jackets questioned
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has ordered a probe into the alleged poor quality of bullet-proof vests used by Assam Police.
The Assam Police has drawn severe criticism after Bordumsa police station in-charge, Bhaskar Kalita, was killed in an encounter with the anti-talk faction of ULFA militants last week. Kalita was injured in his chest and abdomen even though he was wearing a bullet-proof vest.
A police personnel of 14th Assam Police Battalion, talking to G Plus in anonymity said, “We are scared after the incident as during counter insurgency operations, bullet-proof jackets save us but if the quality is questionable our lives are at risk.”
Another source in the police said that during the procurement of bullet-proof jackets there are middlemen with vested interests who introduce the buyers to the companies selling the jackets.
An ADGP level police official, talking to G Plus said, “There can’t be any scam in the procurement of bullet resistant jackets.”
The official said that there can’t be anything bullet proof, it can be bullet resistant.
The bullet-resistant jacket is a combination of Kevlar and a steel plate. Kevlar is an actual bullet resistant material which is worn by even the US president, the official said.
Many a time, many security personnel just wear the steel plate consisting of jacket and not the Kevlar inside. So it has to be checked whether Kalita was wearing the Kevlar vest or not, the official said.
The official also said that the jackets are vetted by the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) before procurement.
The official further added that the resistance of a bullet resistant vest depends on the velocity, distance and the speed of the bullet that hits it. He said that no bullet resistant vest in this world is completely bullet proof.
But the inquiry ordered by the chief minister has been backed by all as the official said it will bring the truth to light.