The Muzaffarnagar violence has drawn attention to a problem that had been given short shrift so far: the proliferation of guns in the state. And the local administration is now in the process of cancelling gun licences.
Of the 15,569 licenses issued in the district, 1,744 have been cancelled in the areas under three police stations -- Phugana, Shahpur and Bhoran Kalan. On Monday, the police also recovered one pistol, two revolvers, 20 swords and daggers during the door-to-door raids.
Western Uttar Pradesh —the “Wild West” — has always been a trigger-happy zone. Guns have not only been pulled to settle arguments, they have been a time-honoured method of making merry during weddings.
But no government – BSP or the SP – had cracked down on the possession of guns, legal or illegal.
The tacit support has another reason. “Muzaffarnagar was once dubbed the crime capital of Uttar Pradesh and it was a matter of pride to have a licensed weapon. But over the last few years, the status of a political leader was assessed by the number of arms licenses he provided to his supporters,” said a police officer.
“So a sudden spurt in issuance of arms licenses was reported during the regime of the BSP and the SP.”
“Arms licenses are provided for self-defence and safety of residents, but perhaps the people in these areas used their weapons during the communal clashes,” added additional director general of police Arun Kumar.