M A I N   N E W S

Boom time for guns in Bihar

Patna, February 12
It is the booming of guns that is being heard distinctly amid the cacophony of poll campaign in Bihar. It is boom time for buying small arms as well.

“An ironical fact is that the problem of law and order has never been a major issue in the elections in the state, where lawlessness has become a fact of life and the people appear to be reconciled to it,” says a senior Congress leader, preferring anonymity.

Bihar, where kidnapping business has been pegged at Rs 40 crore a year and where gun-making has assumed all the trappings of a cottage industry, is now witnessing a virtual scramble among history-sheeters, booth grabbers and political hooligans for buying a variety of small arms.

Deployment of paramilitary forces in sensitive constituencies and strict instructions of the Election Commission to district authorities to deal with criminals have definitely reined in such elements to some extent.

Yet arms like ‘Dunaliyya’ (double barrel), ‘katta’ (countrymade pistol), ‘gupti’ (small sword), bullet bomb, pen pistol — you name it and these are available for a price in the interiors of Munger, Nalanda, Biharsharif, Lakhisarai, Gopalganj, Nawada and Champaran districts.

There are reports of ex-servicemen and some private gun artisans working overtime to meet the spiralling demands of such arms as the state, where the world’s first republic was set up at Vaishali before the birth of the Christ, is witnessing a tempestuous battle for power.

The price for a pistol ranges from Rs 2500 to Rs 4000, a pen pistol comes for Rs 1500, a carbine has a price tag of Rs 5000 and a rifle is available for Rs 2,000. A single bullet comes for Rs 125-130.

Police sources say 9mm pistols with 12 cartridge chambers and pen pistols are particularly in great demand with booth grabbers.

Official sources estimate there are over 1500 illegal arms and manufacturing units in the state and most of them are located in Munger, Biharsharif, Nalanda, Lakhisarai, Gaya and Sheikhpura districts.

There are also reports that people engaged in the nefarious trade use boats and assemble arms in the river midstream to avoid detection.

In the Left extremist-affected Jehanabad and Nalanda districts, illegal gun-running business is being carried out surreptitiously in over 30 villages, such as Hilsa and Islampur to name a few.

But it is Munger district, where Bihar’s sole government-controlled gun-manufacturing unit is located, which is witnessing this phenomenon in its most virulent form.

A peculiar feature of the gun-manufacturing factory at Munger, lies in the fact that the business is in the hands of private manufacturers.

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