Central police and paramilitary forces have finally shed a colonial uniform accessory– the Sam Browne belt– a leather belt with a supporting strap that passes over the right shoulder, worn during ceremonial or martial events.
The belt, called the cross belt in police lexicon, was named after British army officer Sam Browne, who served in India in the 19th century. It was introduced for police and Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) officers under the Indian Police Service (Uniform) Rules, 1954.
While the armed forces and a number of paramilitary forces (CAPFs) have shed its use gradually over the time, the 1.47-lakh strong CISF is the last to jettison this piece accoutrement of the uniform.
“The issue regarding use of Sam Browne belt by the officers has been examined in detail…. It has been observed that armed forces and other CAPFs have already dispensed with wearing the cross belt. “In view of the above, it has been decided to do away with the wearing of Sam Browne belt by the Central Industrial Security Force officers with immediate effect, except by the personnel who have to carry swords on ceremonial occasions,” the force said in a recent circular to all its field formations in the country, accessed by PTI.
The all-leather belt, a senior official said, is used by officers to hold the sword during ceremonial events like the Raising Day of the force or a unit and passing out parades.
As the name suggests, the belt is brown in colour and is hung from a small metal clip on the waistbelt called ‘frog’ in order to latch it and make it diagonally go over the stomach and back of the cop wearing it.
The officer gave a few reasons for the forces to discard the British-era belt: “Oh! This belt was being worn since ages in police and central paramilitary forces and was a very regular feature. But there is no doubt that it was a colonial legacy and, over a period of time, it had lost its operational usage as the work environment, weapons and uniform styles of policemen and forces have undergone a sea change.
“It was also seen to be a little uncomfortable as someone who wore it was always in a hurry to take it out as soon the ceremonial job is done. It restricts the movement of the wearer. It has, hence, been discarded.”