July 11, 2006

Illegal arms supply trade - Agra & Taj

Vijay Upadhyay | Agra

Love the feel of an expensive "Webley Scott", "Colt" or a "Star" pistol in your hand but don't have enough dough to shell out to legally purchase the pistol?

Your "arms procurement" trouble may come to an end with the grey market arms dealers of Agra providing an exact copy of the weapon in less than a week and that too, at a cost less ten per cent of the original weapon. The only drawback - the weapon cannot be registered in your arms licence.

When the Agra police uncovered a cache of illegal weapons in possession of a few youngsters near Sikandra in Agra, the raiding party had hardly expected to find a large array of pistols and revolvers resembling all famous brands of weapons manufacturers stockpiled in a hostel room. Be it the standard .32 caliber or the "police special" .38 and 9 mm pistols, almost all bore handguns were found in the stash containing a total of fifteen pistols and revolvers.

Talking to The Pioneer, Gulab Singh, Superintendent of Police, Agra said that one of the youngsters found in possession of these weapons and arrested in the raid was later identified as Ajay Yadav, the son of Ramgopal Yadav, a head constable of police posted in Agra.

Along with Ajay, three others, Dhirendra, Ankit and Atul were also arrested by the police who confessed that they had been part of the illegal trade since a long time and had sold dozens of pistols and revolvers to their fellow students for as low as Rs. 8000 for an exact copy of a Chinese "star" pistol, much favoured by mafia sharpshooters.

According to Singh, these youngsters sourced the weapons from a grey market arms dealer Kalyan Singh who used to meet them at a roadside dhaba in Guna, Madhya Pradesh and supplied them with the requisite number of weapons ordered in advance over the phone. He said that Dhirendra was the link of this gang with Kalyan Singh and it was he, who had brought the fresh batch of pistols to Agra about fifteen days back. The gang had intended to deliver the pistols to prospective buyers, mostly students or small time crooks who were yet to be identified before they wer apprehended in the raid.

Police sources claim that the precision with which these weapons had been manufactured indicates the possibility that either the manufacturer operated a full scale factory with all the facilities to manufacture such high-end weapons or he sourced the weapon parts from across the border. It was also a possibility that these weapons arrived in disassembled form, loaded in containers of iron & other metal scrap from abroad and were being assembled either by Kalyan Singh or someone else in Madhya Pradesh.

Intelligence reports have already indicated that the Nepal and Bangladesh borders had become a steady source of low-cost illegal weapons supply into India and the recovery of these pistols could possibly reveal a nexus between smugglers trading in weapons across borders.

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