Allahabad and Aligarh have emerged as the primary hotspots from where gunrunners sell semi-automatic firearms made in the forests of Madhya Pradesh (MP) to anti-social elements in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh (UP).
Last month’s seizure of 50 pistols from five men in two separate cases reported from Bhikhangaon and Balwada in Madhya Pradesh’s Khargone district has revealed that Aligarh in west UP and Allahabad in southeastern MP are the places from where weapon traders acquire semi-automatic guns made in the forests of Khargone, Barwani, Burhanpur and Dhar districts.
While three men arrested by Bhikhangaon police with 20 brand new guns hailed from Sarai Inayat and Naini areas of Allahabad, two others nabbed with 30 guns by Balwada police hailed from Gonda area of Aligarh district.
In both cases, the guns – sourced anywhere between Rs 8,000 and Rs10,000 – were made by sikligars, a community that has mastered the art of manufacturing firearms over the years. The weapons were to be sold to buyers in Uttar Pradesh at prices ranging from Rs 15,000 to Rs 25,000.
In the Khargone incident, two women – one of them identified as Pooja – had come with three men from Allahabad to deal with a sikligar. Though the three were arrested, the women managed to escape.
The Khargone police are now working with the Allahabad police to trace the two women as well as the ones responsible for sending them.
Investigations revealed that the arrested people were couriers of the Ravi Nat-Suraj Kushwaha gang, which has been sourcing semi-automatic guns from MP and selling it to anti-social elements in UP and Mumbai. As Nat was arrested by the UP STF two months ago, the gunrunner’s operations are being handled by his deputy, Kushwaha.
“The trio’s arrest and subsequent investigations revealed that Allahabad is the gateway for the supply of guns made by sikligars to Purvanchal (east UP). They also disclosed that the guns were to be supplied to contacts in Varanasi, Azamgarh, Bhadohi, Ghazipur and Janpur districts,” Khargone superintendent of police Amit Singh told Hindustan Times on Tuesday.
Sources in the UP special task force’s Allahabad unit said Nat and Kushwaha’s customers include contract killers working for several gangs in east UP – extending from Varanasi to Gorakhpur. With many musclemen-turned-politicos likely to get involved in the Uttar Pradesh elections next year, the possibility of firearms manufactured in MP being used to terrorise opponents cannot be ruled out.
The political heavyweights hoping to find a place in the UP assembly next year (either for themselves or their kin) include Prem Prakash alias Munna Bajrangi (Mandiyahu-Janupur), Sushil Singh (Chandauli), Vineet Singh (Chandauli), Dhananjay Singh (Jaunpur) and sitting MLA Mukhtar Ansari (Mau).
Besides the Ravi Nat-Suraj Kushwaha gang, a village headman and a gunrunner from Allahabad have also been sourcing guns from siklagirs in MP ahead of the UP polls, sources in the MP STF said.
The MP STF had arrested a sikligar, Chhattan Singh, along with a wholesale buyer for trading in guns in April this year.
The gun trail
Aligarh in west UP and Allahabad in southeastern MP are the places from which weapon traders acquire semi-automatic guns made in the forests of Khargone, Barwani, Burhanpur and Dhar districts
The guns – sourced anywhere between Rs 8,000 and Rs 10,000 – were made by sikligars. The weapons were to be sold to buyers in Uttar Pradesh at prices ranging from Rs15,000 to Rs 25,000
The MP STF had arrested a sikligar, Chhattan Singh, along with a wholesale buyer for trading in guns in April this year