State identifies five illegal arms hubs

State identifies five illegal arms hubs

The five districts are Hubli-Dharwad, Belgaum, Mangalore, Bellary and Kodagu. Top police sources said that the decision to identify the districts followed a directive from the Union Home Ministry that had sought details from all states and Union territories on the nature and scale of the production and trade in illegal arms.

The Home Ministry missive of August 4, accessed by Deccan Herald, has asked the State Home Department to file an action taken report (ATR), which would include the names of the districts, the number of illegal weapons manufacturing units, the scale and magnitude of the problem of illicit arms production and the action the state police has taken so far to neutralise such activities. Section 5 of the Arms Act, 1959, bans manufacture, repair and sale of arms without valid license.

The ATR is yet to prepared because the Home Department is awaiting reports from individual Deputy Commissioners and Superintendents of Police. The inputs contained in the reports will constitute the consolidated ATR.

State Director-General of Police Ajai Kumar Singh, however, denied there were any illegal arms manufacturing units in the five districts. According to Singh, most of the weapons seized from various parts of the State indicated that they were manufactured in other states.

He admitted that districts in Karnataka certainly figure in the movement and trade in illegal weapons. “We have reports of such (trade) activities; we are alert and action is being taken to prevent it,” he said. Singh preferred not to comment on the Home Ministry letter.

But, other senior police sources disclosed that illegal arms manufacturing units, which produce weapons whose end-users often are Maoists groups, inter-state criminal gangs and sometimes terrorists, thrive in the five districts. “Most of these units manufacture small arms and trade them locally. They also repair, test, offer individual arms pieces for conversion illegally,” sources said.

Cautioning the Home Department of the implications that illegally manufactured arms on the country’s internal security, the Home Ministry letter says: “It has come to the notice of the Central Government that illegal arms manufacturing units are operating in some states.

Therefore, it is requested that all concerned authorities may be instructed by you to ensure that such units are detected and appropriate action taken against them.”

Dealers in illegally arms and ammunition operating in the State supply caches of weapons to banned outfits. They are suspected to be part of an inter-state network that smuggles small arms which orginate in Bangladesh and a few South-east Asian countries. “These small manufacturing units and dealers have been operating in the State for quite some time. But the police paid scant attention. In the wake of increasing terrorist attacks,  both the Centre and the states have been directed to keep a close watch on them,” sources said.

Sources said the Union Home Ministry had recently warned the State about the system of issuing license. The Ministry had made it clear that only authorised persons could issue licenses and that the authority could not be delegated to lesser-ranked officials under any circumstance, sources said.

DH News Service