West UP continues to ‘arm’ Delhi criminals

While Munger in Bihar and Khargone in Madhya Pradesh have emerged as hubs of sophisticated revolver replicas, the western UP belt stands unbeatable when it comes to crude shotguns that include the point 12 bore, point 315 bore and hand barrel guns, said a source in the Special Task Force in Delhi Police on Wednesday.

He further said most gunrunners in Delhi reportedly go to Meerut, followed by Muzaffarnagar, to acquire the weapons. However, opening of illegal gun factories in and around Ghaziabad in the recent years have made the procurement process much easier for them.

Earlier, leading gunrunners from UP used to come to Delhi and often meet potential buyers here. They were tracked more than once near south-west Delhi’s Najafgarh area and central Delhi’s Jama Masjid area. However, this trend has changed over time as the relatively more profitable semi-automatic gun business has moved to Munger and Khargone, and western UP is left with the crude stuff costing anything between Rs 3,000 to Rs 10,000, said a police source.

In March 2015, Delhi Police seized as many as 25 rifles and 5,975 cartridges after raiding a gun house in Etah district of Uttar Pradesh while probing a case that involved alleged pilferage of legitimate firearms and ammunitions to criminals.

Around three years ago, the crime branch of Delhi Police had raided a series of illegal gun factories at various places in western UP. The team found that most of the guns manufacturing units were operating from slum clusters, make-shift in nature. A similar operation was also conducted by the Special Cell later in 2013, said a police source.

When it came to tackling the illegal arms manufacturers and gunrunners allegedly operating in western UP and supplying weapons in Delhi, the first problem was that the police were too dependent on a handful of sources. At times, the police had intercepts of alleged gunrunners and other known criminals who were already being tracked by the police. 

In fact, the operation carried out by crime branch was based on intercepts too, which has several restrictions concerning privacy and other legal hassles, the source added.

In a recently published report, Uttar Pradesh Police claimed to have recovered more than 13,500 country-made guns from western UP, which were used for over 1700 murders, in the <g data-gr-id="41">five year</g> span between January 1, 2010 and November 30, 2014.

The figures pertained to 12 regions – Meerut, Bijnor, Agra, Rampur, Sambhal, Ghaziabad, Etah, Aligarh, Moradabad, Amroha, Baghpat and Shamli – where as many as 108 illegal arms manufacturing units were busted. <g data-gr-id="50">Etah</g> was found to have the maximum number of illegal manufacturing units (18) busted, followed by Ghaziabad (17) and Shamli (16).

In the report, a senior police official in Meerut was quoted saying: “First of all, these weapons are 
very easy to manufacture as they do not require <g data-gr-id="45">much</g> raw materials or special tools. Secondly, this belt has a skilled workforce which can manufacture these weapons. Thirdly, the manufacturing units can function in as little space as a single room in a basement. So, it gets very difficult to stop production.”
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