The Mumbai police, who have since last year been tracking down thousands of gun owners who have failed to renew their arms licences for years, seem to have hit a dead-end in the search for 3,735 of them. The deadline to trace them is April 30.
The search for gun owners with expired licenses was initiated in 2015 after the central government, citing security risks, asked state governments to track them down and find out why they had failed to renew their licences. When the police began their search, the number of gun owners with non-renewed licences stood at 6,304, of whom 5,347 were untraced.
Police officials said that in most cases, they have been unable to trace the gun owners as their addresses have changed. However, the officials added that address changes could not account for why so many had failed to renew their licences.
“Though civilians cannot use prohibited-bore weapons, we need to find out if guns without valid licences have been misused. After a search, their number has come down to 3,745,” said a police officer, who did not wish to be named.
Police officials said a status report has been sent to the central government and the Mumbai crime branch. The crime branch may be asked to take over the search of gun owners who remain untraced beyond the deadline, after which the police will take a decision on revoking their licences.
The fact that thousands of gun owners had failed to renew their licences came to light after the Centre initiated a drive to update the National Database of Arms Licences (NDAL).