Semi-automatic military weapons made in the US, Germany seized from Ram Rahim’s dera
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Semi-automatic military weapons made in the US, Germany seized from Ram Rahim’s dera

In the pile of licensed firearms recovered from Dera followers experts have spotted the famous M1 Garand rifle and M1 carbine that were used by the US army across the world.

kolkata Updated: Sep 06, 2017 15:42 IST
Tanmay Chatterjee
Tanmay Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Dera Sacha Sauda,Ram Rahim,M1 Carbine
Some of the rifles Sirsa police recovered from the Dera Sacha Sauda office on Monday. (HT Photo)

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh may have been spreading the message of “love” but his followers - thanks to the 67 firearm licences the Haryana government issued to Dera Sacha Sauda - were armed with semi-automatic weapons American soldiers used in World War II, Vietnam and even the Gulf.

Dera followers also carried semi-automatic shotguns and at least one Mauser C96 carbine which, unlike the weapon’s short-barrel pistol version, is a rare collector’s item even in Europe because few of these were made.

Out of the 33 licensed firearms the Sirsa sadar police recovered on Monday, some are military surplus rifles of US origin.

Read: Dera followers ‘admit’ they were told to target public buildings in Malwa in case of adverse verdict

Arms experts who studied photographs of the seized weapons said quite a few are the famous M1 Garand semi-automatic rifle that US soldiers have used for more than half a century. The 30-06 caliber Garand is still used in training and competitions in America.

Experts also spotted at least one US-made M1 Carbine (not to be confused with the M1 Garand rifle) that are shorter and lighter and fire the 7.62 x 33 mm ammunition.

“This type of semi-automatic firearms are rarely seen in the possession of licensed gun owners in India. Such weapons have been used in the past in gang wars,” said Ravi Ahuja, general secretary of Chandigarh Arms Dealers Association.

Read: Dera followers start crowd-funding for legal support to accused in Mansa

Sirsa sadar station house officer (SHO) Dinesh Kumar, said: “There are some automatic pistols, but we are not sure about the semi automatic rifles. We have not been able to check all the weapons. It is possible that M1 Garand semi -automatic rifles are there. We will able to give the details after the weapons have been checked.”

Experts said the star of the cache recovered on Monday was a German Mauser carbine with an extremely rare 14-inch barrel. The Mauser carbine fires the same 7.63x25 mm cartridge as the Mauser pistol but delivers a more accurate shot at long distance like a rifle. Mauser pistols are very popular in Punjab and the ones with full-automatic firing capability fetch fancy price running up to Rs 10 lakh.

Experts have spotted a semi-automatic shotgun, M1 carbine and M1 Garand rifle among the weapons (in photo) recovered by police. (HT Photo)

“Garand rifles, Mausers and M1 carbines are found in the possession of civilians in Punjab and Haryana because a sizeable section of the population in these states serve in the Indian army. In the past, officers and junior commissioned officers could buy military surplus weapons from the ordnance depot at Jabalpur for personal use. Many of them retained these weapons after retirement and subsequently many such weapons ended up in the market,” said an expert on Indians arms laws.

Read: Police rule out link between Maur blast and Dera Sacha Sauda

Indian civilians are not allowed to possess semi-automatic rifles of any caliber (only the .22 caliber was exempted in 2016) unless they have special permit.

“To avoid legal problem, owners of many Garand rifles have drilled holes in the gas tubes. This makes the rifle incapable of firing in semi-automatic mode. However there are still many Garands in original condition. Whether the ones recovered from Dera followers were altered or not can be established only after close examination,” said an arms expert.

Sirsa police said on Monday that Dera Sacha Sauda administration collected 33 licensed weapons and informed them. There were Indian ordnance factory-made .315 rifles as well. Some of these rifles were fitted with folding butt-stocks for easy carry. Revolvers and pistols were also recovered.

First Published: Sep 06, 2017 15:42 IST