Kolkata: Remember American Sniper, a 2014 film on the deadliest marksman in US military history? Or the 1973 film, The Day of the Jackal, about an assassination attempt on French president Charles de Gaulle? In both, the key is the sniper rifle, deadly accurate and long range.
The Kolkata Police has now decided, in this day and age, to protect VIPs, handle terror attacks or hostage situations, they need sniper rifles too.
The good news is that they will no longer need to import the preferred German machine, Heckler & Koch, referred to as H&N.
They can now buy Indian-made sniper rifles at one-third the price, as good as the best in the world. And there won't be ammo shortage either.
The indigenous sniper rifle was launched today at the Rifle Factory, Ishapore, just outside Kolkata. In 1998, this Ordnance Board factory had brought out the Insas Rifle, now used across Indian security forces and key at Kargil.
The Ishapore sniper costs Rs 2.5 lakh plus tax, has a caliber of 7.62 mm, weighs 6.7 kg and can kill at 800 metres. H&N rifles, three times the price, have a longer range but weigh 7.2 kg, a half-kilo difference in weight that could be critical in a crisis.
"You won't see the sniper rifle out on the streets. If you can spot one, we have not done our job," said Kolkata Police Commission Rajeev Kumar, present at the launch of the sniper and planning to test them out and raise a commando force that will use these machines.
"These rifles are a must for urban police, for VIP protection, hostage situations and terror attacks." he added. The rifles don't have night vision but have telescopic sight, a must for surveillance.
Ratneswar Varma, general manager of the 230 year old Rifle Factory, said, "There is an increasing need for sniper rifles in security forces which prompted us to manufacture this indigenous rifle here. We have already got orders from Haryana Police, Rajasthan Police and CRPF."
The research and development for the sniper was done at Ishapore itself for over a year or so. According to an Ishapore official, it even won a gold medal in a shooting competition. The biggest advantage of an indigenous sniper: you will never run short of ammunition and spares.