The six terrorists who attacked Pathankot Indian Air Force base wore army fatigues (dress) of the same universally identifiable camouflaged pattern. The terrorists who attacked a police station in Gurdaspur on July 27, 2015 also wore army uniforms.
In Punjab, and elsewhere in India, dresses designed on the pattern of army uniforms are easily available. In just a few bucks anyone can dress up in combat uniform of the army or BSF.
It is only the beret and badges that distinguish the real armed forces personnel from someone wearing a fatigue as a fashion-statement therefore making it very difficult to distinguish a real armyman from the fake.
Which is why the Indian Army issued guidelines on Friday requesting civilians not to wear the combat dress of the army and asked shopkeepers not to sell them too.
The guidelines are to be followed across the country. The Army has now labelled the selling of such clothing and equipment “illegal”.
The guidelines not to wear “combat-pattern” dresses extend to private security agencies, police and other central forces too.
The Army has said that wearing such dresses “leads to false alarms”.
Quoting an Army spokesperson, PTI reports that traders and shopkeepers will now have to approach local military authority and request for shops in units/cantonments approved areas/shops for selling Army uniforms.
Less than a day after the notification, camouflage dresses patterened along the lines of Army’s combat uniform are disappearing from stores.
In Punjab, where the two terror attacks happened, shops have stopped selling the dresses. The combat uniform of the Army is made from a much sturdier fabric than those worn for style. However, the pattern is so similar that one might not be able to distinguish the same from a first look.
Due to immense respect for the Army in the country, people often find the combat dress a fashion-statement worth taking pride in. Even film stars can be seen wearing such stylised Army combat-dress-patterned Tees or jackets.
But their easy availability means they can be used by terrorists too.
The camouflage patterns used on combat dresses of the Indian Army are Cactus; Palm Frond, a commonly seen pattern based on the British Denison Smock design; US 3-Colour Desert; Jungle Digital Camouflage; Disruptive Pattern Material, another common pattern; and Arid Flecktarn, which worn by the BSF only.
Combat dresses of the Army can be ordered online too. Those made for pure fashion are sold on all the popular online marketplaces.
A report in the Indian Express says that retired soldiers often retain only one of their uniforms and sell those that do not fit them anymore in the market. Those discarded uniforms were resold till before this notification.
The Army has also requested the youth to spread awareness and “start a campaign to prevent misuse of Army uniform and equipment as fashion statement” on social media.