Tribune News Service
Jalandhar, April 5
With elections round the corner, more than politicians and businessmen, it is Christian pastors in the region who have been getting their vehicles armoured fearing a security threat.
The employees of Laggar Industries, the region’s top industry engaged in bullet-proofing of the vehicles, told The Tribune, “Since the recent emergence and growth of Pentecostal churches are on the lines of thriving ‘dera’ culture, many pastors of the region are making a beeline to the company's factory on Pathankot road here.”
The pastors of various popular churches in Khambra, Tajpur, Khojewal, Nakodar and Kartarpur have their SUV’s armoured.
All of them have also engaged private security men with them, who are often spotted on the stages for their religious programmes and sermons.
It is learnt that Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh had all vehicles taking him from his room to the satsang hall within his Sirsa dera armoured.
The employees shared that since the life of an armoured vehicle was much less owing to an additional 700-kg weight in it because of heavy steel plates fitted on its entire body, the customers often had to return after every five years.
Ahead of elections, the pastors and ‘dera’ heads were all getting their new vehicles refurbished with bullet-proof material.
Sanchit Sobti, Director of the company, said: “Just ahead of the announcement of Lok Sabha elections, we have rolled about 20 cars, which included those of politicians and VVIPs from UP, Jharkhand and Bihar. Demand from Punjab-based politicians was less. Unlike previous years, the demand from Haryana was much higher this time, ” adding that since the Pulwama attack, the demand from Army, CRPF and police in Srinagar and Delhi had also increased for getting their buses, trucks, gypsies and sentry-posts armoured.
The cost of armouring a vehicle like Fortuner, Endeavour or Scorpio comes out to nearly Rs 7 lakh as the entire body has to be strengthened with specially cast plates and replacement of the glass panes is done with 42 mm thick glass.
“The glass on the windows of an armoured vehicle is so heavy that it cannot be rolled down. It is fixed. Even the tyres are run-fed wherein a ring-like material is fixed inside the tube around the rim that can take a vehicle to a safer location even if the tyre goes flat because of bullet shot. Even the body of the oil tanker is strengthened. Some additions and deletions are made as per the need and demand of the customer,” explained a mechanic at the site.
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