Whether licenced or unlicenced, Delhiites, it seems, love their guns — lock, stock and barrel.
Not only has the demand for licenced arms has reached its highest point in the past three years, arms — especially of the country-made variety — are evidently flooding the Capital's grey weapons market even as the police struggle to control the menace.
"During the year 2009, a total of 1,206 people had applied for a fresh arms licence. This year, precisely the same number of applications for fresh licences had been received till July 30. Businessmen and security guards form the majority of applicants," said a senior police officer.
What has become more worrying for the police, especially with two recent cases of men armed with unlicenced and country-made weapons embarking on a shooting spree, is the steep increase in the number of arms they seized this year, so far.
According to police statistics, 321 arms were seized from arrested criminals in 2011. This year, 356 such seizures have been made — which is an increase of over 10 per cent in the total number of seizures.
More than 90 per cent of these, police admit, are country-made — the kind allegedly used by members of the alleged home-grown terror outfit Indian Mujahideen (IM) to spray bullets on Taiwanese tourists in September 2010.
"In 2011, 295 of the 321 weapons were country-made and in 2012, 294 of the 356 seized were country-made. It seems to have become so easy to procure such weapons that you might not find a mobile phone on a criminal but you won't miss finding a weapon of some kind on him," an officer admitted.
Most of these, sources claimed, are smuggled into the Capital from areas in adjacent Uttar Pradesh and Haryana and sometimes even as far as from some districts in Bihar.