Srinagar: On the cold afternoon of February the 13th, after a 30-hour-long gunfight had ended in the middle of Srinagar, people at Karan Nagar chowk saw a strange vehicle, amid the fleet of government forces’ vehicles leaving the encounter spot.
The glistening black heavy armoured vehicle, which stopped for a few minutes at Karan Nagar chowk, was the Renualt Sherpa, one of the six versions of the Sherpa family of tactical and light armoured vehicles manufactured by French company Renault Trucks Defense. The armoured vehicle has been introduced for the first time in Kashmir on trial basis by the paramilitary CRPF.
At the Karan Nagar intersection, a person, who seemed to be in his mid-twenties and was standing behind the razor wires erected on the road, whispered to his friend, “It is a Hummer.” He added, “It’s the same vehicle used by Israeli forces in Palestine.”
“Militants and stone throwers would face difficulties if such kinds of vehicles become popular,” the person said. “God knows how many such vehicles are in Kashmir.”
Nothing could be seen inside the vehicle except for a trooper displaying the victory sign after the two-day encounter that left two militants dead. An inbuilt camera mounted on the top allowed troopers inside the vehicle to have the view outside.
Rajesh Yadav, PRO CRPF, told Kashmir Reader, “We have got only one Sherpa vehicle in Kashmir valley and it’s meant for trials.”
The bulletproof heavy armoured vehicle is built of heavy iron, so that it can resist even a 10kg RDX blast. It can accommodate four armed personnel who can fire sitting from inside.
The CRPF would include the vehicle in its kitty after testing its feasibility in different conditions. “I cannot comment as of now because we are still checking whether it will meet our requirements,” Yadav said. He said if the vehicle does not meet the CRPF’s requirements, other options would be considered.
The Renault Sherpa was brought to Kashmir two months ago and has been part of some operations in south Kashmir. “Two months ago we bought it for trial and it has been used in south Kashmir as well,” Yadav said.
In October 2017, Hindustan Times reported that the Delhi airport had deployed Renault Sherpa to deal with any attack.
The report quoted a CISF officer, who has been trained in using the vehicle, as saying, “The vehicle can run at a speed of 120km/hr and is fully automatic. There is a screen inside next to the driver’s seat where CCTV footage is displayed. The vehicle cannot be opened from outside without the key. There are different lights installed at the front of the vehicle to operate in dark. The wheels are good enough to travel in mud and on bad roads.”