The Mumbai underworld, which lay low to evade police crackdown after murder of journalist J Dey, seems to be preparing for a comeback during the forthcoming civic elections in the city.
This became apparent following the seizure of a huge consignment of arms and ammunition by the crime branch on Sunday night. Initial investigations revealed that the bulk order comprising 15 sophisticated pistols, 24 magazines and 11 live rounds had been made specifically for the corporation polls. "We suspect the consignment had been ordered for use during the civic polls in the city," joint commissioner of police (crime) Himanshu Roy said on Monday, adding that the seizure has prevented bloodshed in the city.
Roy said that the Unit-7 crime branch had been working on a specific tip off for the past two months about a possible supply of firearms to the city in the run up to the BMC polls. On Sunday night, an informant alerted crime branch sleuths about a gunrunner coming from Varanasi on the Mahanagari Express. Crime branch sleuths camouflaged as auto-rickshaw drivers, hawkers and vegetable vendors, lay in wait outside Ghatkopar station. At around 10pm, the suspect was spotted near a shoe store with a black bag in his hand. The sleuths swooped in and arrested the accused. The bag contained the weapons and ammunition.
The arrested person was identified as Ritesh Lalji Sonu alias Sonu Singh, 27, a notorious gunrunner from Uttar Pradesh. "We have identified the recipient of the consignment and efforts are on to arrest him," Roy said.
The police were surprised at the quality and sophistication of the firearms. "It is not possible for amateurs to manufacture such sophisticated firearms or ammunition. The expertise could have come from former gunsmiths working at ordinance factories," a source said adding that efforts were on to identify the makers of the firearms.