New Delhi, March 17
In the backdrop of a controversy over the move to introduce ‘tactical helmets’ for Sikh personnel in the armed forces, the Ministry of Defence said on Friday that all pilots of fighter aircraft and combat helicopters and soldiers deployed in areas where enemy attacks were anticipated were to wear full protective gear for personal safety.
Replying to a question raised by Patiala MP Preneet Kaur, Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt said in the Lok Sabha, “Sikh troops battling terrorism have been wearing bulletproof ‘patka’ over cloth ‘patka’ while maintaining their religious identity.”
The minister said tank crew of armoured regiments also wore padded communication headgear. “‘Tactical helmets’ are an integral part of flying gear for combat aircraft operations and protective gear of soldiers against enemy gunfire. Indian soldiers were provided the requisite protection to include bulletproof jackets and helmets to operate in challenging environment. Safety of soldiers deployed on security duties is considered paramount,” said Bhatt.
Preneet had asked “whether the government proposed to make wearing of ‘tactical helmets’ by Sikh soldiers compulsory?”