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Robbers like holding this smoking gun

Both have a 32 mm barrel. Held to your head, both have an eerily cold metallic feel that, in turn, inspires cold sweat, reports Debasish Panigrahi.
Hindustan Times | By Debasish Panigrahi, Mumbai
UPDATED ON APR 17, 2008 01:29 AM IST

Both have a 32 mm barrel. Held to your head, both have an eerily cold metallic feel that, in turn, inspires cold sweat.

One is a China-made cigarette lighter impersonating its menacing twin — the United States of America-made .357 Magnum Cobra Colt revolver — and helping as many as nine among 10 robberies in some parts in the city happen without bloodshed, but with the prescribed amount of fear. The police would like to ban it.

After industries and the manufacturing sector, the police have started feeling the Chinese heat.

With the smuggling of illegal firearms to the city severely affected in recent times following repeated crackdowns against inter-state gun-running cartels, criminals seem to have devised to a novel way to carry out their activities — China-made toy guns.

Using the Chinese Cobra Colt cigarette lighter, a gang of four robbers looted a gold jewellery manufacturing unit in Kalbadevi on Tuesday night.

Fifteen workers in the unit were held at toy-gunpoint for over half-an-hour as the factory was robbed.

The gang was later arrested by the LT Marg police with the help of alert locals.

“We are seriously contemplating a ban on such toys that have increasingly been misused by criminals to threaten the victims,” Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone II, Ramrao Pawar said on Wednesday.

“I have come across the use of Chinese toy guns by criminals in over 90 per cent of the cases solved by the (six) police stations in my jurisdiction.”

Replica toy guns also help criminals use loopholes in the law in case they are caught.

“This (gun) toy does not invite the provisions of the stringent arms law,” an officer from the LT Marg police station said, requesting anonymity for lack of authorisation to speak to the media.

Pawar said such was finishing of the Chinese replica toy guns that even a policeman would be unable to know the difference without a close inspection.

The misuse of the toy guns had recently figured during a meeting of zonal deputy commissioners and the police top brass was apprised of the gravity of the situation.

“We have informally requested seniors to clamp a ban on these toys,” Pawar said.

Police sources said such toys were available in selected shops in Manish Market, Mushafirkhana, Kurla and VP Road. The one used in the LT Marg robbery was purchased from VP Road for Rs 300.

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