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Ready availability of illegal firearms a cause of concern

Devesh K. Pandey

NEW DELHI: The shocking murder of Delhi University student Radhika Tanwar has once again highlighted the ease with which a person with a criminal intent can acquire a firearm in the Capital. Preliminary findings have revealed that a country-made firearm of .315 bore was used to shoot the girl at crowded Dhaula Kuan from point blank range.

Though statistics may paint an entirely different picture, use of illegal firearms in street crimes has been a major factor behind the increasing sense of insecurity in the Capital and neighbouring States in North India. The police have in a number of cases found that even small-time thieves, burglars and snatchers have started using firearms.

“Guns are readily available today. Many units manufacturing firearms are being run in the adjoining areas of the Capital,” says a police officer.

In a recent operation, the Crime Branch of the Delhi Police arrested a firearms supplier who procured sophisticated pistols from Muzaffarnagar in UP for Rs.30,000 to Rs.35,000 and sold them for Rs.50,000 to Rs.60,000. He paid a meagre sum of Rs.1,000 to Rs.1,500 per country-made firearm and supplied them for about Rs.3,000 each.

A large number of such gangs involved in gun-running have come up in the remote areas of UP, Haryana, Rajasthan and Bihar. “It does not require much space and high degree of expertise to set up a country-made firearm manufacturing unit. The raw material is also easily available. Such units have been operating in places like Baghpat, Meerut, Aligarh, Bijnor and Amroha in UP, Sonepat and Rohtak in Haryana and Alwar, Ramgarh and Kishangarh in Rajasthan,” said another officer.

Gangs that are involved in mass-scale production of illegal firearms engage “experts” to carve out various parts of the weapon. The parts are then assembled before delivery. Investigations have revealed that units located in Bihar, particularly Munger, produce superior quality firearms that are sold to local dealers for about Rs.15,000 each. These may cost Rs.60,000 to Rs.1 lakh each to end users.

“Factories for re-fill of empty cartridges of different bores are also being run by such gangs. Influx of illegal firearms has increased manifold over the years and they are now readily available,” said the officer, adding that the situation calls for a joint and concerted action by the police of neighbouring States to clamp down on illegal firearm manufacturing units and break the supply chain.

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