Assam Police modernises with Uzis, MP5s

By Syed Zarir Hussain, IANS
Wednesday, December 8, 2010

GUWAHATI - Vintage World War I era firearms like the .303 rifles have become a thing of the past with police commandos in insurgency-hit Assam now equipped with sophisticated weapons like the Israeli Uzi and the German MP5 submachine guns to match the new face of urban terror.

We have almost been able to phase out .303 rifles and replaced them with several sophisticated close-quarter and long-range weapons like Uzis to equip our forces so that combating terror becomes more effective, Assam police chief Shankar Baruah said.

For long, the .303 rifles, accurate and good in the field, were used by the Assam Police, but with militants resorting to urban terrorism, realization dawned that the weapon was not good enough to be used while fighting rebels in cities.

We need to buy more assault and combat rifles like the Uzi as fighting terrorism in the jungles and villages is different from populated cities where one would have to avoid collateral damage.

The Israeli Uzi comes in various sizes from submachine guns to pistols and all the variants very accurate and easy to handle with optimum results.

The Heckler and Koch MP5 submachine gun is a lightweight, air-cooled, magazine-fed, delayed blowback operated, select-fire weapon that can be shoulder or hand fired and is invariably very accurate with sustained fire modes.

The Uzi and the MP5 are weapons now used by elite anti-terror forces in most parts of the world as the volume of fire is greater and is very accurate and hence the in thing for security forces in tackling urban terror, another senior police official said.

The wave of terror bombings in Assam in October 2008 had exposed how poorly equipped the state police force was - with World War I era firearms, defective bulletproof vests and insufficient numbers - to deal with heavily armed terrorists, say experts.

We are also trying to get some aerial weapons to equip our forces for maximum results, the police chief said.

In most Indian states, the police forces continue to fight with .303 rifles similar to the Lee Enfield weapons used by the British troops during World War I.

There is need for specialization of the police force by imparting training and equipping them with more advanced weapons. Already the process is on, Baruah said.

Even today, police in Assam wear plastic helmets and body protectors designed to ward off sticks and stones, rather than bullets as they fight terrorists armed with AK-47 rifles, pistols, grenades and RDX.

The entire strategy and training module of the police force needs to be reformed, especially in view of the growing urban terror attacks seen in Assam and other places, former Assam police chief Nishinath Changkakoty said.

Filed under: Terrorism

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