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Taking on illegal arms trade

Taking on illegal arms trade
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A research carried out by Control Arms Foundation of India revealed that in India 5,000 people die each year due to illegal arms trade and 5,00,000 people per year die all over the world as a result of the same illicit trade which makes procurement of arms easy and cheap.

It also found out that bullets, Chinese hand grenades and landmines are available at surprising prices of Rs 2, Rs 300 and Rs 40, respectively, in the northeastern parts of our country.

Binalakshmi Neparam, founder of Manipur Woman Gun Survivors Network and secretary general of Control Arms Foundation of India, has taken the challenge head on, to try and curtail illegal arms trade in India which is gradually taking the form of an ‘epidemic’. Her motive is to make common Indians aware of this inhuman process of arms trade which causes death all over the year, and make the government come up with a strong response in favour of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) which enjoys the ‘support of 153 governments and 800 civil society organisations worldwide’.

The main function of the ATT would be to keep a check on buying and selling of guns and other arms so that it does not fall into the wrong hands. This issue has gained significant momentum since 6 December, 2006, as 153 governments all over the world voted in favour of supporting the Arms Trade Treaty in the UN general assembly.

A short award-winning film, named April 6th, was screened recently at the India Habitat Centre which mainly revolves around the miserable life and fate of a young wife who lost her husband, as he became one of the victims of illegal arms trade in Manipur. The film raises questions about the government’s lack of responsibility and seriousness towards handling the issue of illicit arms trade.

‘Becoming a parent calls for a huge responsibility so also buying and owning a gun demands a great amount of responsibility. Even though we are endowed with certain freedom rights, but these rights should be backed by moral responsibility,’ Binalakshmi said at the panel discussion held after the screening.

‘I don’t know much about import and export of arms. We went for ATT because we believe that we can save humans,’ she said.

‘It is indifference that kills love. The government can be incompetent but not indifferent. Its indifference towards such a grave matter is making the situation worse,’ Ravinder Pal Singh, defense analyst and former project leader on Arms Procurement, said during the discussion.

The illicit arms trade has its origin in the Civil War and since then it has contributed to a huge growth in crime rate and has also been catering lethal weapons to the worlds some of the most dangerous terrorist groups. It is indeed alarming to learn that ‘small arms’ causes 90 per cent of civilian casualties in the world, a major part of which is women and children.

The illegal arms trade is spreading like a wildfire. It’s high time that we raise our voice against this inhuman and illicit practice and make our government take a strong stand.
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