By Shekhar Singh
New Delhi, Mar 26 (IANS): The 'craze' for possessing illegal weapons has intensified in several ways over the last decade. Gone are the days when only gangsters and mafia dons used guns, now even petty thieves and snatchers involved in street crime can be seen using guns to commit crime and getting away unchallenged in and around the national capital.
The weapons smugglers with different modus operandi to supply these weapons after transporting them in the cavity of scooters, cars, milk containers, bags among others. In the age of internet, they are also using social networking applications to contact each other and evade police.
From changing buses to deliver consignments, the arms suppliers have been keeping police on their toes.
A senior police official involved in identifying these gun runners said that the mushrooming of hundreds of illegal arms units on the city's outskirts and in neighbouring towns, has made it quite easy for the criminals to procure country made weapons.
"In western Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, gun manufacturing and then supplying to gangs has become an organised industry. Every part, from butts to side covers, barrels to triggers, are made in factories using grinding machines, hand-powered drills and welding machines," said the officer.
"From simple kattas (crude handguns) to sophisticated automatics, everything's available for a price that ranges from Rs 4,000 to Rs two lakh. While the more sophisticated weapons are made at factories in and around Munger in Bihar, the crude ones are made across Uttar Pradesh and now in Rajasthan also. Meerut, Bulandshahr, Rampur, Etah, Aligarh and Mainpuri districts of Uttar Pradesh, Bharatpur and Kama of Rajasthan, Dhar in Madhya Pradesh are the main suppliers of country-made arms to Delhi and its peripherals," said the officer.
Earlier this month, the Delhi Police had arrested two men and claimed to have busted an inter-state gang indulged in supplying illegal arms and ammunition to criminals and gangsters in national Capital and its peripherals
The police also recovered 12 illicit pistols of .32 bore from the possession of the accused. Both the accused persons have been arrested from Delhi and they were supplying illicit weapons to gangsters of Delhi-NCR, Uttar Pradesh West and Rajasthan since a very long time.
"The accused used to procure illicit pistols for Rs 10,000 to Rs 12,000 per piece and sell the same to criminals of Delhi-NCR, Uttar Pradesh West and Rajasthan for Rs 35,000 to Rs 50,000 per pistol," said the official.
In the first week of March, the police had arrested a 57-year-old man indulged in supplying illegal firearms to criminals in Delhi and its peripherals. The police also recovered 12 country-made pistols from his possession.
In January, the Delhi Police arrested three men and busted an inter-state module of illegal arms syndicate run by a Madhya Pradesh based illegal firearms manufacturer-cum-supplier.
The police said that the arrested accused had supplied more than 200 pistols in the national capital in the last five years. They also recovered 12 pistols and 15 bullets from the possession of the accused.
According to data, in 2022, 4,266 people were arrested for illegal possession of firearms or gun violence, while in 2021, a total of 3,527 were arrested.
A total of 3,693 cases under the Arms Act were registered in 2022 while 2,923 in 2021, a rise of 26 per cent.
According to a senior police official of Special Cell, "Most guns are sold in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. The arms suppliers in Rajasthan, Mewat in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh's Meerut and Aligarh and Madhya Pradesh dispatch the illegal weapons to areas like Najafgarh, Rohini, Narela areas and North East Delhi areas and from there these are distributed among criminals."
"The rise of outer Delhi areas as a hub of illegal gun trade has seen a rise owing to its easy connectivity by bus routes. Gun peddlers of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana supply illegal weapons to criminals in the city as commuting to Delhi is not that tough. These arms smugglers also use two wheelers and they create special cavities in cars to smuggle country-made pistols," said the official.
"Delhi Police teams are constantly involved in gathering criminal intelligence about these gun-runners and active cooperation is being maintained with Uttar Pradesh and Haryana Police through inter-state co-ordination meetings for the coordinated surprise checks to nab criminals involved in the illegal gun trade," the official added.