With over four lakh active gun licence holders, Punjab stands third on the list of states with active gun licences in the country.
- Besides Pakistan, illegal arms are also being smuggled from Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh
- Licensed gun houses are also involved in illegal sale of ammunition
Keeping a gun is more than a status symbol in the border state of Punjab, which is third on the list of states with active gun licences in the country. There are over four lakh active gun licence holders in Punjab, where one is allowed to own three firearms on a single licence.
Interestingly, civilians have more weapons than there are police officials in the state. The number of estimated fire arms owned by Punjab residents is around 11 lakh while there are 80,000 cops in the state police force.
Muktsar, Sangrur, Hoshiyarpur, Firozpur, Tarn Taran, and Amritsar districts own maximum arms licences.
The love for guns has in turn led to a demand for illegal arms which are not only easily available, but also within the budget:
- Country-made pistols or “desi katta” is available for somewhere between Rs 2,500 to Rs 15,000
- Automatic country-made pistols price range between Rs 25,000 to Rs 60,000
- 0.30 bore and 9 mm pistol are priced between Rs 50,000 to 1.50 lakh.
Illegal arms in Punjab are mainly smuggled from Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
Punjab Police last year had busted as much as three Madhya Pradesh-based illegal weapon manufacturing and supply modules. A main supplier, identified as Baljit Singh alias Sweety Singh, was also arrested. Baljit Singh is a resident of Madhya Pradesh’s Barwani district.
The UP Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) had arrested one arms supplier, Ashish Singh, from Haridwar in 2020. Ashish Singh, a resident of Meerut, was supplying illegal weapons to Khalistan Liberation Force.
Another Aligarh-based arms supplier, identified as Pawan Kumar, was arrested by the Sangrur Police last year. Pawan Kumar used to procure weapons from Madhya Pradesh.
Illegal weapons are manufactured in the jungles of Malwa-Nimar region of Madhya Pradesh, Shamli and Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh besides Munger in Bihar. However, guns made in Uttar Pradesh are considered inferior as compared to Madhya Pradesh.
Besides Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh weapons are also being smuggled from Pakistan using drones.
The number of seizures have witnessed over 340 per cent rise over the last year. The BSF had recovered 3,322 weapons as compared to 750 in 2020. Punjab police had also seized 1,349 illegal weapons between 2018 to 2020. These weapons were sold to the gangsters.
Punjab gun houses have also been caught selling legally purchased ammunition to criminals as no record of the buyers and their gun licences were found in the fake invoices.
Police official say the illegal arms are supplied in smaller quantities and move from hand-to-hand. Those arrested are kind of retailers and suppliers.