The Dehradun Public School (DDPS), Govindpuram has enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, including those who come from nearby rural areas, where the gun culture and availability of illegal weapons in households is a common and accepted practice.
The illegal weapon seized by police after the incident on Wednesday had a big barrel and is known as ‘Poniya’ in local dialect. It was used by a Class 11 student who opened fire on a ‘rival’ student inside his classroom in DDPS during lunch break.
“Such weapons can be found easily in households in rural areas. Poniya is a type of small rifle and its barrel can be opened up easily and adjusted. The accused student fetched the gun from his house. We are questioning his parents about the source from which the weapon was procured,” said a police officer involved in the investigation.
The shooting at DDPS would have had far more serious implications had the student been able to load the second cartridge, police said.
This is not an isolated incident where students have been involved in carrying weapons and opening fire in educational institutions. In June 2015, a 20-year-old BBA student, on her way to appear for examination, was caught in crossfire between two groups of students. She had sustained bullet injuries, and police later arrested four persons in the case.
“Such instances are an eye opener for parents as well as school authorities. We have instructed authorities of other schools too to ensure regular inspections to avoid such instances in future,” said Deepak Kumar, senior superintendent of police, Ghaziabad.
The tall claims by police about crackdown on weapon suppliers and busting of arms factories while western UP is going to polls on February 11, has also fallen flat.
Police say criminal cases involving use of illegal weapons are not uncommon due to their easy availability. In recent past, several illegal arms factories were busted, where the accused prepared such arms easily with the help of truck steering rods. The prices of such weapons range anything between Rs 2,000 to Rs 10,000, depending on quality.
According to records, the police in 2016 seized nearly 600 illegal country made and factory made weapons in criminal cases, apart from 1,066 cartridges. The weapons included stenguns, AK-47, rifles, double barrel guns, revolvers and country made pistols.
Apart from the illegal weapons, the district also has nearly 15,700 licensed arms, from which nearly a majority of around 12,000 were deposited with the district administration, since the model code of conduct for UP assembly elections prevails.
While the students resorted to firing inside the school on Wednesday forenoon, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his election rally on Wednesday, had raised concerns over the law and order situation in UP and said that nearly 40,000 cases under the Arms Act were pending in the state.