Sriganganagar turned into hub for illegal guns
Sriganganagar District of Rajasthan became a major market for buyers of illegal weapons because of the complicity of two officials in charge of issuing gun licences, report Sandipan Sharma & Ram Prakash Meel.jaipur Updated: Sep 06, 2007 01:36 IST
Sriganganagar District of Rajasthan became a major market for buyers of illegal weapons because of the complicity of two officials in charge of issuing gun licences.
According to an enquiry by the state government, two additional district magistrates (ADMs) of the district issued 874 gun licences between 2002 and 2006. Most of the licences were illegal, as they were issued without police verification and on the basis of fake documents. “The two ADMs, RS Makkad and Lal Chand Ojha, have been suspended for issuing licences without following the government rules,” Sriganganagar Collector Bhawani Singh Detha told HT.
Since it was easy to get a licence from Sriganganagar, buyers from all across north India flocked to the border district.
“The ADMs issued licences to 176 applicants from Ferozepur in Punjab alone, without checking the details," Kesar Singh Shekhawat, additional SP of the special operations group of the state police said.
The ADMs issued licences for weapons of prohibited bore too. "Only the Union Home Ministry is entitled to issue such licences. But the two ADMs issued them at their level."
Since licences for prohibited weapons were being issued without any checks, local gun dealers started trading in them.
"Investigations reveal the gun dealers approached some army officials and bought their weapons. Several officers were ensnared by the dealers," Shekhawat said.
Chandrashekhar and Vikalp Jha, owners of three armouries
in Bikaner, were the pioneers of the trade in army weapons, according to the police.
Jha, who was arrested by the police last month, has confessed that he and Chandrashekhar, who is now absconding, illegally sold several semi-automatic rifles, carbines and foreign-made pistols.
“We issued fake bills to hide the caliber of the weapon. The prohibited weapons were sold as single-shot guns to cover our tracks," Jha, who was sent to judicial custody by the Rajasthan High Court on Monday, said in his confession to the police.
The network was exposed when the district administration tried to hide details of arms licences issued between 2002-06, in response to a question raised in the Assembly earlier this year.
The state's home department initiated an enquiry into the matter after it became suspicious of the district administration's reply.
A probe, headed by the district collector, revealed the nexus between officials, arms dealers and army officials during the scrutiny of licence records and books maintained by the weapon dealers.