West Bengal elections, many say, are all about guns and roses. But it takes some gun power before poll winners cherish rose bouquets.
It is that time when the state is gearing up for panchayat elections to be held next month. With poll fever gripping political circles, the demand for guns has gone through the roof.
And with the increase in demand, the prices of desi (country-made) weapons have gone up two-fold.
From R2,500, the price of ‘one shotter’ (single-shot) has doubled to R5,000. For ‘sixers’ (revolver) the price tag has jumped from R15,000 to R25,000 and over. For 7mm and 9 mm handguns, which are indigenously built, the prices have gone up from R26,000 to over R40,000.
“The demand is huge this time. Apart from one shotters and sixers, orders are pouring in for 7mm and 9 mm handguns,” said Rashid (name changed), a Howrah-based illegal arms dealer.
“People backed by political parties are now placing orders in bulk. Such is the demand that we have to depend on arms from other states. So, the prices have risen,” another arms dealer from southern fringes of Kolkata added.
Sources say the demand for guns is 'very high' in volatile districts like Murshidabad, Malda, Burdwan, Hooghly, North and South 24 Parganas.
Local arms dealers claim the prices of crude bombs have also gone up like never before. Small crude bombs earlier sold for R250, are now being traded in the price range of R350 to R400.
“Lalsada bomb, which has more fire-power, is the popular choice. ‘Hajmola’ (powder packed in hajmola candy bottle) and ‘dibba’ (small steel boxes of any kind) are also popular. We are charging R400 per piece for one bomb, but if one wants to buy in bulk, we offer discounts,” said a bomb maker from Metiabruz.
Charges for hiring a bomb maker have also gone up sharply. In non-election season, a bomb-maker charges R4,000 to R5,000 for handling 20 kilogram of gunpowder or ‘atta’.
“Now we are not available for anything less than R10,000 to R15000… tiffin allowance is extra,” said Sajid (name changed) a bomb maker from Murshidabad.