In Mamata Banerjee’s Bengal, at least one business is flourishing – manufacturing and sales of guns and bombs.
The TMC chief, who famously drove Tata Nano out of Bengal, is finding very tough to rein in the illegal arms manufacturers, who are out to make a fast buck in the election season.
“We are keeping round-the-clock vigil and are conducting frequent raids,” Howrah police commissioner Ajey Ranade told HT.Ranade would know as he supervised a joint operation with Bihar police as recently as on March 3 to bust a precision tools factory in Dasnagar where parts of small arms were being made for orders placed from Bihar. "We seized parts of 1,000 pistols of .76 bore, apart from others," he said.
Clearly, it is not enough to curb the gunrunners, who, till recently, were dependent on neighbouring Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
Now, WB has its own illegal factories scattered over Howrah, Malda, Murshidabad, North and South 24 parganas districts.
What’s more, unprecedented inflation has hit the business of violence, too.
With the LS polls round the corner, prices of handguns have almost doubled.
Makers and dealers of ‘country-made’ weapons cite police raids as another reason. “Prices have almost doubled compared to March last year. Orders are pouring in every day. But the police is making frequent raids. Prices are likely to go up further in the coming days,” said a prominent dealer of Howrah.
Another factor pushing prices is the high number of middle men. “Makers never sell their products. A gun passes through six or seven hands before it reaches the actual buyer,” said a dealer.