Centre cracks the whip on illegal arms licences | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Centre cracks the whip on illegal arms licences

The home ministry has ordered a nation-wide crackdown on 350 arms licences for sophisticated weapons illegally issued to influential businessmen, civil servants and politicians by the Nagaland government over the last two decades.

delhi Updated: Apr 12, 2011 22:51 IST
Aloke Tikku

The home ministry has ordered a nation-wide crackdown on 350 arms licences for sophisticated weapons illegally issued to influential businessmen, civil servants and politicians by the Nagaland government over the last two decades.

Last week, the ministry revoked 352 licences for “prohibited arms” — weapons of a certain calibre, often semi-automatic and automatic arms - after the Nagaland government showed no signs of scrapping the licences.

These licences were illegal since the home ministry is the only licensing authority for firearms classified as “prohibited arms”. But deputy commissioners of insurgency-hit districts had exceeded their brief to licence applicants who could pull strings.

Applicants have to pass stringent antecedent checks to get this licence and only 2,400 such licences have been issued so far in the country.

The home ministry woke up to these licences in 2007 and had been pursuing their cancellation with the Nagaland government for the last two years.

But Nagaland refused to play by the book, hiding behind a high-level of threat perception for the applicants.

In 2008, a Bihar-bound train passenger was found to be carrying nearly four dozen arms licences. He told his interrogators that the arms licences were genuine and issued by the Nagaland government.

The arms licence for prohibited arms is valid for three years but it could be extended in any state other than Nagaland too.

“We have asked all state governments to track down these licencees, who have been given time till April 21 to surrender these licences and their weapons with the nearest police station,” an official said.

Since the licence is no longer valid, criminal cases for violation of the Arms Act can be registered against people found in possession of a prohibited arm.