New Delhi. In a move aimed at giving better body armour against stone pelting in the Kashmir Valley and the weapons used by the China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in the recent border clashes along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the security personnel will be given protective body armour to fend off sharp-edged baton and stone attacks by Chinese forces.
According to reports, the Centre is preparing a detailed plan under which each company of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) will have ‘full-body protectors’ for at least 10 per cent of its personnel. These can be used on a rotational basis by troops moving out on patrols.
The ITBP, which along with Indian Army is responsible for patrolling the 3,488 km LAC, is now expected to get additional responsibilities as part of the new plan being prepared to prevent face-to-face contact between the two armies after the Galwan clash.
The full-body protectors were first introduced in Jammu and Kashmir by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to counter stone-pelters. They are resistant to kerosene, petrol, diesel and Molotov Cocktail and able to withstand temperatures of minus 20 to 55 degree Celsius for up to five hours, said a senior official.
The armour, officials added, weighs approximately six kg and has chest protectors, shoulder pads, guards for upper arm, elbow and forearm as well as full lower body protective gear.
Security personnel in protective gear will provide cover to patrol units during unarmed combat, officials said.
ITBP is estimated to have already procured 4,500-5,000 body protectors, which is insufficient. In the wake of recent standoff, the Centre has ordered reinforcement of 60 ITBP companies along the LAC in various areas of Ladakh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
Officials said discussions are underway not to deploy ITBP for internal security and election duties though they will continue to provide assistance in managing the Covid-19 pandemic. The central force is operating a 10,000-bed Covid-care facility in Delhi. It’s also responsible for care and treatment of Covid-positive patients from central agencies like the NIA, CBI, IB, NTRO, SSB, BSF and CRPF among others.
Early this year, the home ministry sanctioned 47 border outposts (BOPs) and 12 staging camps for ITBP, of which 34 are planned in Arunachal Pradesh, while five will come up in the western theatre. The staging camps are being set up to act as temporary BOPs for ITBP jawans out on patrol along the Himalayan frontier, and provide them rations, logistics and a place to stay.