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Police unearth gun-smuggling racket in three states; 4 held

The scrap or semi-assembled weapons that should have been smelted used to be smuggled out from the factories and refurbished to make guns, officials said.

india Updated: Sep 07, 2018 23:41 IST
Punya Priya Mitra and Tanmay Chatterjee
gun smuggling,weapons,west bengal
Scrap from ordnance factories in Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal was recrafted into sophisticated weapons such as AK-47 assault rifles, INSAS rifles and Webley & Scott revolvers, in Bihar’s Munger district, according to evidence unearthed in two major security operations in the past six months(Representational Photo)

Scrap from ordnance factories in Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal was recrafted into sophisticated weapons such as AK-47 assault rifles, INSAS rifles and Webley & Scott revolvers, in Bihar’s Munger district, according to evidence unearthed in two major security operations in the past six months. According to the police , around 15 people in the three states including some working in the ordnance factories have been arrested. The scrap or semi-assembled weapons that should have been smelted used to be smuggled out from the factories and refurbished to make guns, officials said.

This week, four persons --- ex-armyman Purshottam Lal Rajak (54), his son Shailendra Rajak (28), Suresh Thakur (56), an officer working in the Jabalpur ordnance factory and alleged gun-runner Imran Alam (42) --- were arrested in Jabalpur in a joint operation by Madhya Pradesh and Bihar police. Three others are absconding, police said.

Jabalpur superintendent of police Amit Singh said Lal, who used to procure scrapped weapons from Thakur, had reassembled and sold around 70 AK-47 rifles since 2012, apart from several other smaller weapons. Thakur was a key person in the racket; he used to get replacements for the defective parts in the scrapped weapons from the factory, he said.

Lal, who retired in 2008 as an armourer, was an expert in reassembling guns, which he did in his small workshop at his house in Jabalpur. He had opened a small grocery shop which acted as his front and used to take the weapons with his wife Chandrawati to Bihar, the police said.

“These weapons were mostly procured by Munger-based Alam who used to sell them to local criminals. We are also looking whether the weapons were sold to Maoists,” Singh said, adding that Alam was arrested by Bihar police with three AK-47s and 30 rounds of ammunition procured from Lal on August 29. The price of one AK-47 was ₹ 5 lakh, he said.

The administrator of the ordnance factory, Major JJ Manas, declined to meet the HT reporter.

On Friday, as part of the multi-state operation, Bihar police recovered three AK-47 guns from Munger resident Mohammad Shamsher Alam. “We believe that these high-end firearms from Munger were being supplied to Maoists in central India. To track them, we have lodged a case under Prevention of Money Laundering Act,” inspector general (operation) Kundan Krishan said. In May, a special task force of Kolkata police had busted a similar racket in Ishapore, in which gunrunners from Munger were getting refurbished weapons from the rifle factory there. Two employees of the factory were arrested along with four other persons, police said.

“The gang had been operating for a decade. We found during investigation that between 2013 and 2018 they smuggled out 16 INSAS rifles and 4 SLRs (self-loading rifles),” said Muralidhar Sharma, deputy commissioner of police in the special task forceclaiming that they suspected similar operations in other “ordnance factories ...” Within a week, the factory officials recovered as many as 900 finished and semi-assembled sub-machine guns

First Published: Sep 07, 2018 23:41 IST