Gun culture, it seems, has taken over Uttar Pradesh, now more than ever. How else would one explain the prevalence of guns and other arms across the length and breadth of the state, by population far and wide.
“My entire family and I will vote only for a politician who can get me a license for a rifle or a revolver,” says Prashant Yadav (name changed), 59, a farmer from Aliganj tehsil of Etah district who has unsuccessfully tried to get a license for the past two years.
Yadav claims that the local mafia has been threatening and demanding ransom from him but says he is now ready to confront them fearlessly.
Twirling the katta even as he speaks, his aggression is naked: “Goli maar dunga unko (I will kill them all).”
In July, Yadav bought a katta and a double barrel gun from a nearby village for Rs. 1500 and Rs. 3500 each.
He knows where to access the unlicensed guns from but is desperate to get a license, for that will give him easy access to ammunition.
Why do farmers need guns?
“I am not allowed to sell my paddy unless I pay a ransom,’’ he responds, adding “Last year I had to cough up Rs. 10,000.”
This year, he’s had a bumper crop and would have had to shell out Rs. 20,000. Spending Rs. 5000 on two guns was a wiser option – from his point of view at least.
But he still wants a licensed weapon and is trying hard to get one.
The licensed weapon will give him access to ammunition, for no check is kept on the number of bullets issued.
In Etah district, the district majestrate (DM) has been very strict in giving licenses and so Yadav had to take the illegal route and source unlicensed weapons.
The district already has about 23,700 license holders which is atleast 20 times the number of guns issued to the police force.