Munger too hot, arms find a poll bazaar
Lucknow, Feb. 2: “Made in Italy”, supplied from Bihar, sold in Uttar Pradesh.
Munger’s illegal gun-makers have found a ready market in Uttar Pradesh, especially the western districts, ahead of the scheduled April-May rural polls after the Nitish Kumar government turned up the heat in Bihar.
On January 30, Bareilly police seized weapons and ammunition manufactured in Bihar — but labelled “Made in Italy” — and arrested three persons.
It was not an isolated haul, they realised soon. The consignment and the weapons seized earlier in western Uttar Pradesh districts were part of a bigger racket.
Deputy inspector-general Dinesh Juneja said the consignment — 48 pistols and 97 magazines — was headed for Meerut from Munger in Bihar.
Police sources said the arrested trio, Mohammad Insaf, his wife Gulshan Bibi and an associate, told interrogators that a network of 30 people were involved in supplying arms from Munger. They also revealed that there was a demand for over 20,000 firearms from Munger, a senior officer told The Telegraph.
“We suspect the coming panchayat polls may have created a new market for weapons in western Uttar Pradesh districts. There has been a spurt of seizures as we were getting information on sudden resurgence of clandestine trade in the region,” Juneja said.
Sources in Uttar Pradesh police said the spurt in the illegal arms trade in the region followed a crackdown on the underworld firearms market in Munger and Gaya districts, notorious for abductions of businessmen till recently. Even cops were involved in the racket, said a senior officer.
Additional director-general Brij Lal said four days before the Bareilly haul, a police sub-inspector in Gorakhpur, Rajesh Kumar Singh who is originally from Bihar, was arrested along with two buyers. Two .32 bore revolvers, four 9mm pistols, 100 live 9mm cartridges and 49 AK-47 cartridges were part of the haul, he said, adding that the consignment had come from Munger.
Investigations revealed the arrested policeman owned a big bungalow in Gorakhpur, Brij Lal said.
On January 2, the police arrested four men, all in their 30s, near Aroma Garden in Meerut, and seized 33 pistols and 66 magazines hidden in a secret compartment of a car.
Two of the arrested quartet, Ramesh Kumar and Pramod Chaudhary, are from Bihar. The others, Haneef Latif and Khursheed Khan, are residents of Meerut.
Meerut police inspector Rakesh Singh, who led the raid, said at first glance the seized firearms could easily mislead a customer into believing that they had been smuggled from abroad though they had been manufactured in Munger.
Some of the guns seized were exact copies of Smith and Wesson revolvers.
Deputy superintendent of police, Meerut, A.K. Srivastava said the arrests had revealed a new trend. Besides criminal gangs, even farmers in western Uttar Pradesh were buying illegal arms to guard crops and ensure a share of the irrigation waters. Many of these farmers, he said, feel proud to own a revolver, known in the region as “tamancha”, which they keep under their pillow.
Sources said Ghaziabad, Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur and Bulandshahr also had a thriving market for illegal firearms from Munger, a demand stoked by the coming village polls.
The racket came to light in November when Delhi police arrested Manish Kumar, an arms supplier whose mobile phone calls they had been tracking, and seized 12 firearms from him. The 26-year-old, picked up from the Rohini area in Delhi, told interrogators he came from Munger.
Delhi additional commissioner of police (crime branch) Neeraj Thakur got in touch with Uttar Pradesh police and told them about the arms supply route. Police teams then raided several places in Munger and also in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh.
Police sources said Manish was a graduate from a Bihar university but took to crime through his brother, a drug peddler who had been arrested in Bihar.
According to the sources, Manish confessed to selling Munger-made revolvers for anything between Rs 30,000 and Rs 50,000 each, far less than the normal market price of Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh.