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Six arrested for smuggling firearms to Maoists

Kolkata: In a major breakthrough, the Special Task Force (STF) of the Kolkata Police arrested six persons including two officials of Rifle Factory Ishapore in North 24-Parganas district who used to smuggle firearms to the Maoists allegedly for the past 10 years. The arrest came on Monday morning when the police in plain clothes caught them red-handed at Babughat.
More importantly, the firearms those were smuggled to the Maoists in Bihar and Nepal were manufactured in the rifle factory which is one of the oldest in the country. The investigation further revealed that besides the Maoists, arms were also smuggled to other anti-social groups in Bihar.
Deputy Commissioner of the STF Murli Dhar said: "The police were keeping a watch after receiving a tip-off that some people were scheduled to assemble at Babughat for an arms deal. The cops nabbed them as soon as they went there and recovered seven revolvers, one carbine and ammunition as well from the arrested persons."
Out of the six arrested, 40-year-old Ajay Kumar Pandey, alias Guddu Pandit, is a resident of Nalanda and Jaysankar Pandey (36) hails from Nawada, Bihar. The rest of the four – Susanta Basu (51) alias Basuda, Sukhda Murmu (48) alias Munmun, Kartik Shaw (40) and Umesh Ray (21) are residents of Ishapore and its adjacent areas. Susanta and Sukhda are junior managers at the rifle factory.
Police have initiated a case under different sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) on charges of habitually dealing in stolen property (413 IPC), criminal conspiracy (120B) and Section 25(1AA) of the Arms Act. All the six persons were remanded to police custody after being produced before a city court on Monday afternoon.
Sources said this is not the first time when the deal was about to take place. But firearms including INSAS rifles and Self Loading Rifles (SLRs) had earlier been smuggled even to the Maoists by the same group. It was in 2008 when for the first time matter related to firearms getting stolen or lost from Rifle Factory Ishapore came to light. The police had initiated a probe and the STF of the Kolkata Police too came to know about the involvement of a racket from Bihar in the smuggling of the firearms.
The police had been keeping a watch on the movement of the suspected persons. Sources said a team of the STF had even gone to Bihar to carry out an investigation in this connection.
The investigation further revealed that the employees of the rifle factory used to work hand-in-glove with the smugglers from Bihar to get a hefty commission.
The firearms, which were treated as scraped ones in the rifle factory, were mainly smuggled out. In a bid to avoid getting caught, the arrested employees of the factory used to dismantle the firearms for taking it out of the factory without being noticed. Later, the same were fitted and sold for lakhs of rupees to the Maoists after necessary repair work.
The police have also seized the mobile phones of all those persons who have been arrested in this connection. Further investigation is on.
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