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Bulletproof vehicles spikes in poll season

Posted on March 23, 2009 - Filed Under Bullet Proof |

   Bulletproof vehicles have become a prized asset this time for political parties as well as candidates hitting the road to seek votes. For over two months now, bullet-proof vehicle makers in the country have been flooded with requests. And it’s not just the terrorist threat, fear of Naxalites and criminals hired by political rivals is also making politicians arrange for bulletproof  vehicles. “Though we keep getting such demands round the year, since the 26/11 terror attack the number of enquiries from people wanting to turn their vehicles into bulletproof ones has risen dramatically,” Mr Shreyans Parikh, the head of Mumbai-based Parikh Armoring Company, told The Statesman over phone. “And it’s not just high profile politicians, lesser known MPs and MLAs also want bulletproof vehicles as they feel threatened by inter-party rivalry, gang wars and the vengeful politics at the grassroots,” Mr Parikh said. He said depending on the model and make, whether they are ambassadors, Safari, Montero, Pajeros, Land Cruisers, Scorpios or Mercedes, bullet proof cars cost between Rs 5 Lakh to Rs 30 lakh and the job takes 20 to 30 days. The director of Jalandhar-based Laggar Industries Ltd, Mr Sunchit Sobti, said the firm is “over-booked” for the time being due to elections. “We are currently working on about a dozen vehicles especially for the elections,” he said. Mr Sobti said the demand this time has mostly come from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Chattisgarh. Without naming political parties, he said the firm sold three such cars to Andhra Pradesh, two to Punjab, five to Uttar Pradesh, two to Nagaland and two to Bihar. “As most high profile leaders have bulletproof vehicles, requests for armouring are coming mainly from not-so-high-profile MPs and MLAs belonging to politically volatile states,” Mr Sobti said. Before a car gets armoured, one needs to take permission from the Intelligence Bureau. The armouring process begins with disassembling a new vehicle. Wheels, seats and doors are removed. The interior is stripped to the floor, boards and wiring. Undercarriage, upgrading suspension and brakes are done first, as is the installation of a non-explosive material in fuel tank. The vehicle is rebuilt after armouring it with steel plates. Mr Sobti said initially mainly government ambassadors used to get bullet proofing, but now more expensive models like Mitsubishi Pajeros, Scorpios, Monteros and land cruisers are getting the same.

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