A village in Barwani district that supplied pistols to D-Company for plot to kill firebrand BJP leader Varun Gandhi in 2009 has now become the most favoured source of pistols for criminals in neighbouring Maharasthra.
On Friday, the Pune crime branch arrested 50-year-old Jenibai Barela and recovered three pistols that were lookalikes of foreign made sophisticated 9 mm pistols. The woman, who hailed from Umarati village of Barwani district, has stashed the pistols and 21 cartridges in her specially designed ‘ghaghra’.
The pistols have Made in UK and US embossed on them. The woman told the police that these pistols were rip-off of foreign made pistols and made by a gun maker in forests near the village.
Pune crime branch assistant commissioner of police Suresh Bhosale told Hindustan Times on Sunday that the arrested woman has admitted to have played a carrier’s role thrice in the last few weeks. “She is a poor woman, who has to take care of her family. She works as a daily wage labourer. But with wages falling short of fulfilling family needs, she became a courier for gun makers. She often travelled in luxury buses to Pune to deliver pistols to customers, including criminals and wealthy students,” Bhosale said.
Each of the three seized pistols was to be sold to customer at prices ranging between Rs 50,000 and Rs 75,000. The sale proceeds would have been directly credited into the bank account of a gun maker in Barwani and the woman would have got Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 from the gun maker.
The woman’s arrest comes just a month after the Madhya Pradesh police arrested Pune-based criminal Sumit Chavan when he and two of his aides just left Umarati for Pune in a car with eight pistols sourced from a sikligar (gun maker).
Chavan’s two aides Akhil and Rohan, who managed to escape, were later arrested by Maharashtra ATS. Chavan has told the police that he had sourced eight pistols from Umarati-based sikligar Ranjit Singh, whose contact was shared by a jail inmate while he was lodged in a Maharashtra jail.
“With the arrested woman being illiterate, we’re facing difficulty in getting information from her to track the customers to whom she was to deliver the consignment on Friday,” said Bhosale.
According to the Pune crime branch official, 90-plus illegal guns have been seized in Pune since January, most of which have been sourced from sikligars in Madhya Pradesh, particularly those operating in jungles adjoining Umarati village of Barwani.
The Pune police are particularly zeroing in on gunrunning owing to coming Ganesh Puja festival and also the civic elections slated a few months later.
Located in Warla block, Umarati village is home to 1,500 sikligars (sikh blacksmiths who have making guns for generations). Sustained investigations by MP STF have revealed that sikligars in 35-plus villages of MP’s Khargone, Barwani, Dhar and Burhanpur districts are making country made guns and semi-automatic pistols for customers spread in 20 states, including Jammu and Kashmir.
In 2009, the Karnataka police arrested D-Company sharpshooter Rashid Malbari near Mangalore. Malbari’s name had cropped up during the attack by Chota Shakeel’s hit men on another mobster Chhota Rajan at Bangkok in 2000.
Malbari’s arrest was preceded by arrests of three other Chota Shakeel’s shooters. Guns seized from Malbari and other shooters, included two guns made by Umarati-based sikligar Pyar Singh.
The guns were sourced by the D-Company shooters from Mathura-based gunrunner Mahendra Pal Jat and Delhi-based criminal Baldish. Both Pyar Singh and Mahendra Pal Jat were arrested by MP STF in 2014. Mahendra Pal has allegedly supplied pistols to D-company hitmen to eliminate Varun Gandhiin 2009.
FIRST MP WOMAN ARMS COURIER ARRESTED
The tribal widow is the first woman arms courier from MP to be arrested in Pune.
“Generally, couriers of guns are men and it’s for the first time a woman courier has been held in Pune,” Pune crime branch assistant commissioner of police said.
According to sources in MP STF tribal men were most trusted couriers of sikligars, but now impoverished women are becoming soft targets of sikligars
In May, arrests of Khargone-based sikligar Chhattan Singh and Aligarh-UP based gunrunner Robin Singh by MP STF revealed that MP’s sikligars were using female members of family as verification tools to protect their trade from plainclothes cops acting as decoy customers.