Denied of license to procure arms for ‘self defense’ from growing mafia and Maoist threats, hundreds of traders and industrialists across Jharkhand have begun using star cricketer, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s name as a shield.
The Jharkhand government in January last gave the Team India captain approval to purchase a 9-millimeter (MM) pistol after he got the mandatory clearances from the Union Home Ministry. The star cricketer, who already has Z plus security, also has a license for a 7.65 mm pistol since 2006.
Trade, Industry bodies are now crying foul play against the authorities that are apparently sitting over 500 applications for arms licenses from traders across the state. Over 50 percent of those applicants are from the state capital, Ranchi, industrial capital, Jamshedpur and coal city Dhanbad.
“It has become habit for the government to doubt intentions of unarmed and vulnerable businessmen applying for arms license,” said Ranchi based Federation of Jharkhand Chamber of Commerce & Industries (FJCCI) secretary, Bikas Kumar Singh. He questioned the logic behind giving license for two different kinds of arms to Dhoni who moves in Z plus security.
The government says that it would never mind-giving licenses to 'genuine' applicants, ‘but keeping arms has become a status symbol in the state.’
“We forward all applications to the respective deputy commissioners for their consent, said Virendra Singh, secretary to commissioner, South Chotanagpur, adding, it has been noticed that several applicants had no genuine reason for procuring arms.
In mineral rich Jharkhand, the business fraternity suffer double onslaught--one from the criminals, anti-socials, and the other from Maoists and their breakaway groups. Both these groups forcibly mint money from them, and attack if their demands are not met.
As per FJCCI records, criminals and Naxals killed 53 businessmen in 2009, while at least 25 have been killed this year. In Jamshedpur, 2010 began with a businessman’s murder. Criminals killed five businessmen in January.
“A whopping 90 members of our chamber have filed applications for arms license, but the administration is sitting over them for more than two years,” said Singhbhum Chamber of Commerce & Industries (SCCI) secretaries Suresh Sonthalia and Bharat Vasani. In Dhanbad, around 30 vulnerable businessmen are waiting for arms license.
“As long as the applicant is not from a Naxal affected area, I do not find any issue rejecting application from any genuine applicant,” Jamshedpur senior police superintendent Akhilesh Jha said.
Chief Secretary A K Singh seems concerned over the businessmen’s plight. In an official communication dated July 10 (HT has a copy), he has directed the home secretary to request the South Chhotanagpur Commissioner to ‘apply her mind on the applicants soon and take conscious decisions without further loss of time’.
Maoists earn several hundred crore rupees as levy from Jharkhand. Most of these come from the gullible businessmen. Politburo member Barun da had in his confessional statement said that Jharkhand was a golden egg laying goose for them.