The Rifle Club donation practice dates back to the British period when every district had a District Rifle Association (DRA), popularly called the Rifle Club, which was established to provide basic infrastructure to arms license holders for learning how to handle weapons. The DRAs were also supposed to promote the sport of shooting in the public. The British collectors took less than a rupee as DRA fee for creating a corpus fund to ensure proper infrastructure, ammunition and a firing range. Post Independence, the fee of the Rifle Club was enhanced and it was made mandatory. From time to time the fee was raised arbitrarily and district magistrates stopped giving receipts for these donations. "I have paid Rs 2,000 as Rifle Club fee, but the clerk in the collector's office refused to give me a receipt," says Nagendra Singh, a licence holder in Lucknow. The fee ranges between Rs 300 and Rs 5,000 from district to district. And in Bundelkhand, where a firearm is a status symbol, people are ready to shell out any amount to obtain a licence. What is most shocking in this scandalous saga is that the money has not been spent for the purpose it was collected for. Of the state's 71 districts, only one has a shooting range. There are more than three lakh licensees in Uttar Pradesh, but none has been trained by the DRAs nor has anyone been provided cartridges at subsidised rates.
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