M.T. Shivakumar

Police concerned over the safety of dignitaries

The State requires at least 30 bullet-proof cars

Five cars provided last year are not up to the mark

BANGALORE: Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi travel by bullet-proof cars provided by the Delhi Police whenever they visit Karnataka. Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa does not use a bullet-proof car, though he faces threats.

The reason is simple: lack of required number of bullet-proof cars even as the condition of the existing cars is not on a par with advanced range of such vehicles.

While the police estimate that at least 30 bullet proof-cars are required in the State in view of the heightened threat perceptions due to naxalite and terrorist activities, only 10 cars are at the disposal of the police. The condition of five cars that were added recently was not up to the mark, the police claim.

Andhra Pradesh has over 60 such cars while Tamil Nadu has more than 40 cars for providing security to top leaders. Karnataka had only five till recently and another five were added last year.

The State Intelligence and the city police commandeer three each cars while one each has been given to Belgaum, Bellary, Mysore and Mangalore police, according to Deputy Commissioner of Police (VVIP Security), Bangalore City, V. Thimmappa.

He said these cars were being provided to dignitaries who are accorded Z-Plus category security. The safety equipment include bullet-proof windows made with layers of dense ballistic glass and opaque armour comprised of high-hardened ballistic steel, ballistic nylon etc., he added.

Bad condition

However, according to an Inspector-General of Police, “Karnataka is one of the States which has its bullet-proof cars in worst condition.”

He said the five cars, each costing nearly Rs. 40 lakh, provided to the State police last year, were not up to the mark. He said the recently added five cars were modified by India Garage of Hindustan Motors.

“We are not happy with the condition of those cars and hence have requested the Government to provide Tata Safari sportsutility vehicles. Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and other states have Tata Safari bullet proof vehicles,” he added.

According to another officer, bullet-proof Ambassador cars are not suitable for travel on bad roads. Therefore, Sonia, Priyanka and Rahul Gandhi prefer to travel in Tata Safari bullet-proof vehicles, which are specially airlifted during their visit to Karnataka by the Delhi Police.

However, Deepak Jain, Chief General Manager of Hindustan Motors, Kolkata, said: “Bullet-proof Ambassador cars are the best in the country.”

He said the company sells nearly 500 cars across the country to various government departments. More than 50 per cent of cars held by departments in the country are Ambassador cars, which are cheaper compared with Tata Safari, he said.