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India-Israel defense ties to increase: sources

(Xinhua)

08:58, January 30, 2012

NEW DELH, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- Israel will soon be helping India combat Maoist insurgency and terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and in the north-east. Talks are on between India and Israel about procurement of high quality body armour for India's paramilitary forces deployed for counter-terror and counter-militancy operations, according to official sources.

If the deal is through, Israeli defence firms will be supplying at least 5,00,000 Level IV body armors and helmets for India's six paramilitary forces other than to many state governments which are also dealing directly with Israeli companies to equip their police forces combating armed left-wing Naxalite guerrillas. "The usual process is to acquire these bullet resistance body armors through tenders and that is why the procurement is being delayed. No government will dare to directly place the order though Israeli body armours and helmets are the best in the world", said a senior Home Ministry official. "The Maharashtra government is already through with its tender process and an Israeli company is likely to get the order. Similarly, many other state governments are also in various stages to finalize deals with Israeli firms. But as far as the Union home ministry is concerned, we will procure through a global tender and Israeli or U.S. companies are likely to bag the orders,"he said on condition of anonymity.

All along paramilitary forces were authorized "bullet proof jackets" but now even the parliamentary committee on home affairs have recommended Level IV "bullet resistance jackets"to replace the Level III jackets which are inferior and cannot resist bullets fired from AK-47 rifles.

The killing of Mumbai ATS chief Hemant Karkare by terrorists during the Nov. 26 attacks in 2008 in Mumbai attacks and slaughtering of 76 Central Reserve Police Force soldiers at Dantewada by Naxalites in April, 2010 has made the home ministry sit up and upgrade the quality of body armour provided to paramilitary forces.

Even after the Mumbai terror attack such jackets are in short supply for the paramilitary forces and more than 40 percent of the authorized quota remains unfulfilled.

The six paramilitary forces including the elite National Security Guards (NSG), India's premier commando force, face a shortage of around 90,000 jackets.

The elite NSG which frequently is called upon to deal with critical battle situations when terrorists strike face a shortfall of 58 percent, followed by the Assam Rifles, battling insurgency in the north east with 33 percent and the Border Security Force 30 percent.

Indian Minister of External Affairs S.M. Krishner made an official visit to Israel early this year, the first by an Indian foreign minister in nearly one decade to the Jewish state.

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