HUBBALLI: The investigation into the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh has once again thrown the spotlight on the arms mafia of Vijayapura. For decades, gang lords in Vijayapura were dependent on smugglers in neighbouring Maharashtra for theirs arms and ammunition. But in the last few years, many locals in Vijayapura and Indi have been doing a flourishing business in illegal arms supply.
According to police sources, most of the cases involving country-made pistols land up with 8-10 sellers who are active in Indi and Vijayapura. These men purchase country-made pistols from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala where there are dealers who get the bulk supply from other parts of the country. Dealers from Vijayapura who purchase a few dozen guns paying about `15,000-20,000 each sell them for Rs 60,000 in Vijayapura. “For instance, when the code of conduct was in force during the recent elections, licensed gun holders were asked the surrender their firearms to the police. But during some raids, we found many country-made pistols. The sellers keep a track of family disputes, murders, gang wars and house burglaries and find their potential clients through such news. For the sellers, its very important to know where the market is. They contact family members of crime victims and those who think their lives are in danger and offer them pistols for their safety,” explained a police officer.
“There have been cases where pistol smugglers have turned into supari killers. A person may want firearms to kill somebody or for his safety. Many times when the buyer is not confident of killing the person whom he has grudge with or faces threat from, he can ask the smuggler to do the jog. And of course, there is cost to it. Hence the role of country-made pistol dealers was thoroughly investigated in the Gauri case and even after the murder of Dr M M Kalaburgi,” the officer added.
In last six months, police have made it mandatory for all the rowdy sheeters to attend parades. They have also been asked to sign at jurisdictional police stations. Such measures have helped in bringing down the crime graph along Bhima river banks, sources said.