Three personnel of the Madhya Pradesh police’s special task force (STF) were seriously injured in an attack by members of the Sikligar community in Dhar district late Saturday night, police said.
The incident occurred when a five-member STF team led by sub-inspector Santosh Pandey raided Lalbagh, a Sikligar hamlet under Dhamnod police station, following a tip-off about an illegal arms deal.
Sikligars, whose population is mainly concentrated in Khandwa, Khargone, Dhar and Barwani districts, are known to have perfected the art of manufacturing guns for livelihood over the generations.
Dhamnod police station in-charge Dinesh Chouhan said that during the raid, about 30-35 villagers attacked the STF team with stones in which constables Vishnu Yadav, Manish Rathore and Suresh Mandre received serious head injuries.
The STF personnel somehow managed to escape from the village. Later, the injured men were admitted to a hospital in Indore where their condition was said to be critical, Chouhan said.
Dhamnod police have registered cases against Malkhan, Pratap, Tara Singh, Rajkamal, Terasingh and a few other unidentified persons under IPC sections 353 (criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 147, 148 (rioting), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 333 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt to deter public servant from his duty), besides under the Arms Act. Police have launched a manhunt to nab the accused.
About the incident, STF team leader Pandey said they had got a tip-off that an illegal arms deal was going to take place in the area. Acting swiftly, one of the STF men met the arms dealer pretending himself to be a customer.
“While the talk was going on, we nabbed one Satnam. However, his aide managed to slip from the spot. Within a few minutes, the accused brought a large number of community members from the village who attacked on the team,” Pandey said.
Police sources say the weapons made by Sikligars are in great demand in states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. For an investment of Rs 1,500 to 4,000, a Sikligar can earn anywhere between Rs 3,000 to Rs 40,000 for .315 or .12 bore guns.
Many Sikligars are now making high-precision, automatic weapons, the sources say.