The government is set to allow private security agencies to buy firearms and arm guards to protect high-value assets.
The move comes more than two years after the 26/11 attacks that prompted companies such as software major Infosys to seek permission for guards with automated weapons.The home ministry’s proposal to allow state governments to issue bulk arms licences to registered private agencies was in final stages, sources said.
In the absence of such a provision, security companies depend on individuals with licensed firearm. This is illegal but the police look the other way as they can't fill the vacuum.
“This would enable the security agencies to buy better weapons and focus on the quality of trained guards they recruit,” a senior government official said. The ministry would come up with broad guidelines but give the district superintendent of police the last word on the antecedents of the firms, the official said.
The AK-47 kind of weapons — automatic and semi-automatic — are still out of bounds for the private agencies. The government fears misuse of sophisticated weapons.
“But there are other weapons: pistols, revolvers and other rifles that we can buy once the changes come into effect,” said Kunwar Vikram Singh, chairman of Central Association of Private Security Industry.
He anticipates a demand for about 12,000 gunmen for the cash and transit business — transferring cash by financial institutions to ATMS or bank branches alone.