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New lucrative criminal business: illegal arms

For the increasingly trigger-happy people in the national capital, there are multiple options to buy illegal arms and ammunition from. Testifying to that trend are the 20-odd gunrunners caught by the Delhi Police in the last two months.

delhi Updated: Dec 02, 2010 00:27 IST
Karan Choudhury

For the increasingly trigger-happy people in the national capital, there are multiple options to buy illegal arms and ammunition from. Testifying to that trend are the 20-odd gunrunners caught by the Delhi Police in the last two months.

“There has been a rise in the number of gunrunners in the city. And their biggest clients these days are the scores of snatchers, robbers and carjackers in the city,” said a senior police officer on the condition of anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

“Most of these illegal gun-makers no longer make .315-bore or a 12-guage single-shot single-loading country-made pistols. Automatics and semi-automatics are being manufactured as they sell more. They even have duplicates of foreign pistols such as the Italian-make Berettas,” he said.

The illegal route

According to the police, most of these weapons are smuggled into the city on trains.

“A runner is a carrier who buys guns from a manufacturer. Guns are then concealed in nondescript luggage and brought into the Capital,” the officer explained.

“Here they either sell it themselves or sell it to gunrunners, who take it forward to Punjab, Haryana and neighbouring states,” he added.

On November 23, the Delhi Police arrested 10 gunrunners in the Capital. “Sandeep Dahiya, the alleged 25-year-old kingpin of the racket, was not just selling guns to carjackers but was also using those to barter with the criminals for stolen vehicles,” said Ashok Chand, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch).

The police said most of these illegal weapons come into the city from the interiors of eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. According to them, most of these weapons are sophisticated arms such as .32-calibre, 7.62-calibre and even nine-millimetre pistols.

Most of these weapons were manufactured in Munger, Bihar, and some even smuggled from Nepal, the police said.

The economics

According to the police, the returns in the trade are so high that even women are now involved in it. On November 12, Zainab Nisha, a class 12 student of the Open school, was allegedly caught selling illegal semi-automatic pistols.

“They buy these pistols for as less as R15,000 and then sell for a minimum of R50,000 in the city. The profit margin is high and this makes it quite a lucrative trade,” added the officer.