The election code of conduct has been in force in Ghaziabad and Gautam Budh Nagar districts since January 4, but only half the total arms licence owners have deposited their weapons with the district authorities till January 12.
The code of conduct makes it mandatory for licensed arms holders to deposit their arms with the authorities till the time the model code remains in force. Some arms holders are given exemptions that are decided by the district’s screening committee headed by the district magistrate (DM).
Ghaziabad has around registered 15,700 registered arms, of which 12,425 are supposed to be deposited within three days of serving of the district administration’s notice. The rest have been exempted by the screening committee.
“EC guidelines state that the arms have to be deposited within three days of serving the notices or the licence holder presents his point before the screening committee. The notices are being served and we will get the weapons deposited at the earliest. They will remain with the authorities till the elections are over,” said Nidhi Kesarwani, DM, Ghaziabad.
However, till January 12, only 6,452 of the 12,425 arms had been deposited. The maximum number of arms are under the Kavi Nagar police station area, with residents there owning 3,162 registered weapons such as revolvers, pistols and double barrel guns.
Those residing under Sihani Gate, Murad Nagar and Modi Nagar police station areas have 1,906, 1,011 and 894 weapons, respectively. Areas falling under Sahibabad and Indirapuram police stations have 703 and 647 weapons, respectively, held by licence holders.
“We are taking up the process fast and aiming to get around 90% of the arms deposited soon. The screening committee has decided to exempt petrol pump owners, hospital owners, those working as guards, on bank duties and those with a threat to life (in cases of crimes etc). The latter includes only those who have given a report to the police to this effect before the announcement of model code of conduct,” said Deepak Kumar, senior superintendent of police (SSP), Ghaziabad.
“We may also exempt defence or police personnel serving outside the district and senior citizens living alone. Apart from this, 100% of the weapons will be deposited,” Kumar added.
There are already prohibitory orders in place in Ghaziabad from December 25 to February 15, but all the licensed weapons are yet to be deposited.
Arms not deposited before polls pose a major challenge to authorities as there is anyway a threat from the large number of illegal arms present in the district. According to records, the police had in 2016 seized around 600 illegal countrymade and factory-made weapons, apart from 1,066 cartridges, in criminal cases. The weapons included sten guns, AK-47 rifles, double barrel guns, revolvers and countrymade pistols.
Meanwhile, police officials of nearby Gautam Budh Nagar said the district has nearly 11,000 arms licences of which 5,500 arms holders have already submitted their weapons.
“The numbers are likely to go up over the weekend. Those who have not submitted their arms are requested to do so immediately,” said Dharmendra Singh, SSP, Gautam Budh Nagar.