The issue of various state police forces, and para-military forces too, wearing combat fatigues has been much debated over the past few years. The para-military forces are now commonly deployed in counter-insurgency operations and need to wear disruptive pattern uniforms for obvious reasons. In fact, all para-military forces, be it BSF, CRPF, ITBP, CISF or SSB, have evolved their own pattern of disruptive pattern which is absolutely distinct from the one used by the Indian Army.
The Army too has gone in for a standard pattern of the fatigues which bear the insignia of the Indian Army distinctly on the cloth at regular intervals. This was done in order to ensure that no one is able to ape the Army fatigues, especially in counter-insurgency operations, where militants often dressed up as Army personnel and attacked military targets.
However, much to my surprise I saw the same uniform being worn by women cops of the Punjab Police. The occasion as the launch of s special women's task force launched by the Punjab government to counter crimes against women, especially eve-teasing in front of schools and colleges. The Punjab Deputy Chief Minister, Sukhbir Singh Badal, launched the special task force in the presence of the Director General of Punjab Police, Sumedh Singh Saini, and other senior police officials.
(Note the IndArmy insignia on the sleeve)
It was indeed shocking to see that the Punjab Police had copied the disruptive pattern of the Army down to the last T. The uniforms even had the Indian Army watermark, complete with the insignia. It appears that the Punjab Police acquired the cloth wholesale from some vendor who also supplies to the Army and then went ahead and got the uniforms stitched for its women cops.
These women cops are supposed to be 'Commandos', given the flashes they wear on their arms. These 'Commandos' go around on scooters and motorcycles, wearing these combat fatigues to deter eve-teasers and those who may harass women. While the intention is noble, it is not understood why they had to wear Indian Army fatigues to achieve the same. Is it because Khaki is not macho enough? Is it because Khaki does not inspire the same awe and respect that olive green does? Or is it simply the brain-child of someone who thought he could get away by aping Army uniform? Whatever may be the case, it is an offence which has been committed and the Army must take note of it and protest.
It is all the more interesting that the contingent of this special task force which was flagged off also had women cops dressed in Khakis and in a new blue coloured uniform too. Their task is also similar to these 'Commandos' but for some unknown reason they do not get to don the fatigues.
While imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, the Punjab Police seems to be taking it too far. The DGP's flag wears three stars on it. A replica of what the Army has started doing to reflect the status of the flag-ranked officer. The previous DGP was a step ahead. He even had a Ashoka emblem on the flag along with three stars trying to bring himself to the equivalent of an Army Commander or GOC-in-C. Mercifully, the present incumbent has refrained from doing so.
Western Command must raise this issue in the next military liaison conference and sensitise the state government and Punjab Police on sanctity of uniforms.