KARACHI, July 25: The Sindh police are in a quandary over the acquiring a more sophisticated version of armoured personnel carriers after it transpired that bullets fired by criminal gangs during the April Lyari operation penetrated the body of the APCs, forcing the authorities recently to return at least four APCs to their manufacturers, the Heavy Industries Taxila, it emerged on Wednesday.
More than half a dozen APCs were damaged in the Lyari operation in April that ended with high casualties, including of nearly a dozen policemen.
The authorities are now convinced that amid a growing gun culture and presence of heavy weaponry such as rocket launchers and hand-grenades in the city the conventional APCs were no longer effective for policing in Karachi and the policy is needed to be reviewed for future acquisition.
“Currently the Sindh police have a fleet of 79 APCs,” said a source privy to the recent developments. “They are 62 wheeled and 17 tracked APCs. Twenty-eight wheeled APCs are in use of the Karachi police, which have been built under B-6 protection level.”
He said the B-6 armouring was a level of protection specified in the CEN ballistic guidelines (European Normalisation). It specified that the material could defeat multiple 7.62x51mm standard assault rifle rounds, he added.
Considering the recent history of armed clashes in Karachi, he said, the B-6 armoured vehicle did not serve the purpose of policing in the metropolis.
“But the dilemma is that the enhanced version of protection level i.e. B-7 cannot be built for wheeled APCs while the tracked APCs cannot be commonly used in urban localities. The Sindh police have recently returned a fresh batch of four B-6 APCs to its manufacturers asking them to enhance their protection level at least to B-7,” he added.
An autopsy of the APCs rendered useless within hours of the Lyari operation eventually forced the Sindh police to review their policy with regard to getting more such vehicles.
It emerged during the post-operation investigations that the Sindh police’s technical and transport wing — a dedicated arm of the department to take care of the APCs and fleet of other police vehicles — was not offered any role in the acquisition of the armoured vehicles, as the job was handled by the finance and logistics departments.
“The situation has set alarm bells ringing as on the one hand it demands a policy review regarding acquiring APCs and, on the other, suggests the level of the city’s weaponisation,” said a senior police official. “Gone are the days when the police force was supposed to fight conventional crimes. You hardly see in the region where the city police force is required to fight criminal gangs equipped with weapons used in wars.”
He said experts in the Sindh police and other institutions had proposed the authorities concerned to design a new policy of weaponry for Sindh that included modern APCs. The Sindh police authorities had not reached any decision as yet, he said, adding that the subject was likely to be discussed in the days to come with the Sindh government.