Election boosts demand for armoured vehicles

The mechanics retrofitting cars with blast-resistant doors and bulletproof windshields in a Punjab garage have been flat out of late — elections are looming, with the first phase scheduled for April 11.

Politics can be a dangerous game and some candidates aren’t taking any chances. Orders for specialised armoured cars have been piling up at Sunchit Sobti’s factory in Jalandhar, where his crew have already retrofitted four SUVs for political bigwigs.

It’s a pattern that repeats itself every election season, said Mr. Sobti, whose father started supplying armoured cars for politicians and other VIP clients in the 1980s, when an armed insurgency was raging in Punjab. “This one is the mother of all elections,” he said. “Like all big events, there are bigger risks involved and leaders want to ensure they are safe.”

It was not just candidates who are keen to bullet and blast-proof their cars but party bookkeepers and backroom heavyweights too, he added.

At least seven rival companies in Punjab, Haryana and also Maharashtra have also experienced a spike in election-related orders for armour-plated vehicles.

The outlay is considerable for reinforcing a private vehicle, costing anywhere between $7,000 and $70,000.

But for some, it is a price worth paying. “Success and jealousy knock at you together,” said one State lawmaker from Punjab, who last year had his SUV armour-plated. He declined to be named. “You can’t even trust your friends, forget about enemies. I can’t compromise on my safety.”

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