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Illegal arms trade thrives in Vizag
By KMP Patnaik | THE HANS INDIA | Mar 31,2017 , 03:15 AM IST
Visakhapatnam:Thanks to the flourishing ganja trade, the illegal arms and ammunition from Bihar and Odisha finding its way to Visakhapatnam city, which is otherwise known for peace and tranquillity in southern peninsula.
The arrest of eight anti-social elements from Bihar and seizure of eight automatic country-made pistols in a span of 20 days indicate that a large number of weapons were being procured by the local ganja traders in bid to dominate the trade and eliminate their rivals.
During the arrest of the eight-member gang including four from Bihar on Monday, the second accused D Raju confessed to the police that he paid ₹ 4 lakh to his friend from Bihar for weapons which were exclusively meant to eliminate his rivals operating from Rolugunta mandal in the agency.
The turnover of ganja, harvested in more than 10,000 acres in agency bordering Odisha, has crossed Rs 2,000 crore mark and the arrest of 600 smugglers last year points to a fact that the trade has reached an alarming stage with advent of weapons.
"What we are seizing from the traders is a small miniscule. More than 90 per cent of the contraband is carried by foot soldiers who carry it to the safe point on the National Highway or Railway Station," confessed a police officer.
A senior journalist from the agency commented that the transport is busted when the smuggler and the police fail to strike a deal.
"In fact everybody makes money from the ganja including political leaders who had funded their elections," he said. However, he expressed his concern over the free flow of arms in to the agency.
Former superintendent of police Dr Koyya Praveen admitted that they had seized four small weapons in the agency and one they came to know was given to the Maoists by the trader.
Last year in September, the Odisha police raided an assembling unit in Kandhamal district and arrested two persons. The police found that on an average, they were manufacturing seven to eight country-made guns a month and supplied them to various buyers in the region and some might have found their way into Visakhapatnam city.
Around 753 persons in the city possess licensed weapons and a total of 968 licensed firearms were enrolled till recently, according to police. Some persons, including political leaders and real estate agents, possess more than one fire arm. Every year around 50 people apply for license but the police reject most of them.
"The police had stopped issuing gun license to private persons since years as they found little threat perception," said assistant commissioner of police I Chittibabu. Admitting the downslide in the business, owners of two agencies which sell arms to private individuals in the city told this correspondent that people are reluctant to procure firearms.