BERHAMPUR: Gun culture is spreading fast in southern districts of Odisha as is evident from the number of firearms seized by the police. A few districts in the region are already reeling under Maoist menace and increased use of firearms by criminals has emerged as a matter of grave concern for law enforcement agencies. Though the police in the region have been making frantic efforts to check the flow of illegal firearms, it has not yet yielded the desired results as the process is time-consuming, said a senior police officer. The trend has given a boost to organised crime and it is becoming tough to tackle.
As per statistics available with the police, 156 firearms have been seized in five southern districts in 2017 and 2018. Police, during this period, also seized 161 ammunition. Police sources said most of the firearms seized from the region were smuggled from Bihar and Jharkhand and supplied to criminals through middlemen. Sources said country-made pistols and revolvers and foreign-made revolvers are being sold for prices ranging between `5,000 and `80,000.
Earlier, a basic barrel and trigger mechanism was used in country-made firearms and each round had to be loaded separately. But the barrel used to get damaged after being used for a few times. Such weapons have now undergone major upgradation as over the years, illegal gun manufacturers have used the latest technology to manufacture revolvers and pistols with magazines that have high tension springs and can hold nine rounds, said sources.
The police officer said the supply chain is highly organised and operated by drug mafia. Explaining the modus operandi of the arms smugglers, he said once the manufacturers receive an order, facilitated through an agent, they hand over the consignment to clients at areas like bus stops, lodges or secluded spots on highways. A factory-made illegal weapon costs anything between `10,000 and `12,000, including six to eight rounds of ammunition.
The officer said almost all the accused from whom firearms were seized are young and school dropouts and they are involved in the trade to make a fast buck. A sizeable number of youths who migrated to other States in search of livelihood and come in contact with criminals there, bring weapons on trains and supply those to criminals. Bombs and guns have become the weapons of choice for criminals and this trend has emerged as a major cause of concern for the police and administration.
Between 2017 and 2018, southern range police seized several firearms, country bombs, ammunition, sharp weapons and sophisticated weapons looted from Nayagada armoury around a decade ago by Maoists.
However, if one goes through the official records, the number of seized firearms indicates a disturbing trend. Since 2017, the police in Ganjam and Berhampur have started a drive against criminals and over 53 of them have been injured in encounters.
Apart from firearms, explosives and sharp weapons were seized from the criminals. While the explosives and country bombs were defused, the seized firearms and sharp weapons were stored in Malkhanas of police stations.
Once the manufacturers receive an order, they hand over the consignment to clients at areas like bus stops, lodges or secluded spots on highways
An illegal weapon costs anything between `10,000 and `12,000, including six to eight rounds of ammunition
Most of the accused from whom firearms were seized are young and school dropouts and they
are involved in the trade to make a fast buck