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After smuggling, Ishapore factory melting weapons

The unprecedented exercise began three weeks ago. Hundreds of weapons have been taken to the Metal and Steel Factory (MSF) of the Ordnance Factory Board and put inside furnaces.

india Updated: Sep 08, 2018 22:58 IST
Tanmay Chatterjee
Tanmay Chatterjee
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
weapons,arms smuggling,ishapore
Hundreds of weapons have been taken to the Metal and Steel Factory (MSF) of the Ordnance Factory Board and put inside furnaces. (Representational )

To stop smuggling of British-era firearms and modern army rifles rejected during the production process, Rifle Factory Ishapore (RFI) has started melting down all weapons kept in its warehouses.

The unprecedented exercise began three weeks ago. Hundreds of weapons have been taken to the Metal and Steel Factory (MSF) of the Ordnance Factory Board and put inside furnaces.

“The process started three weeks ago. Till Thursday, eight truckloads of weapons and parts have been sent to MSF that stands adjacent to our facility,” an RFI official said on condition of anonymity.

D K Mahapatra, general manager, RFI, refused to comment.

Firearms used during the two World Wars and the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War as well as parts of weapons and INSAS and SLR rifles currently in use by the army and paramilitary forces, were smuggled out of RFI on a truck that generally carried garbage and scrap metal, a probe by Kolkata Police revealed in May this year.

On May 6 and 7, the Special Task Force (STF) of Kolkata Police arrested two junior works managers of RFI, Sukhada Murmu and Sushanta Basu, two contract labourers of the factory, Umesh Rai and Kartick Shaw, and two Bihar-based gunrunners, Ajay Pundit and Jaishankar Pandey. Seven firearms were seized from them.

The accused persons had smuggled out 20 INSAS and SLR rifles and sold those to Maoists and criminals over a period of 8-10 years, deputy commissioner, STF, Muralidhar Sharma, said after the arrests.

Investigations revealed that the contract labourers used to enter the factory by scaling the boundary wall at a particular location that cannot be seen by security guards manning the watch towers.

The revelation prompted the RFI top brass to seal the warehouses. “Around a month ago, a decision was taken to melt down all weapons and parts so that nobody could ever make functional weapons out of them,” an RFI official said on condition of anonymity.

“There has been one or two minor incidents. For example, on Thursday, a century-old muzzle loading gun that still had some gunpowder in the barrel was put inside the furnace. MSF workers were surprised when the gun made a noise,” the officer said.

The operation in May was STF’s second in seven months. In September 2017, Sambhu Bhattacharjee, a junior works manager, was arrested for allegedly smuggling out parts of SLR and INSAS rifles.

RFI, the country’s oldest defence production unit, is located about 40 km to the north of Kolkata. It is one of the 41 factories run by the Ordnance Factory Board which functions under the ministry of defence.

First Published: Sep 08, 2018 22:58 IST