Shoot in Haste, Repent at Leisure: Licensed Guns Used More for Murders in Punjab
By Harpreet Bajwa - CHANDIGARH
Published: 08th Dec 2013 10:13:34 AM
It’s a license to kill in Punjab. While more murders are committed using unlicensed weapons in most states of the country, in Punjab the opposite holds true.
According to a reply given by the Ministry of Home Affairs to an RTI query sent by activist Rajesh Sharma of Karnal, Haryana, on November 13, 2013, more people were murdered in India with unlicensed weapons than licensed ones. Last year alone, 3,458 people were murdered with unlicensed weapons and 323 with licensed weapons. Uttar Pradesh led the way with 1,575 murders, followed by Bihar (682) and West Bengal (269).
In Punjab, however, 65 murders were committed with licensed weapons and eight with unlicensed ones in 2010. In 2011, the figures were 60 and 15, respectively, and in 2012 it was 56 and 10. The use of unlicensed weapons is gradually growing, according to the information shared. Additional Director General of Police (Intelligence), Punjab, H S Dhillon said, “The murders with licensed weapons in the state are spur-of-the-moment ones and not cold-blooded crimes. A heated exchange takes place and one shoots.” He admits that now more unlicensed weapons were coming into the state from elsewhere.
While in Sikkim, Puducherry, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Daman and Diu and Lakshadweep, no murders were committed—with licensed or unlicensed weapons—in the past three years (2010-2012), one murder was committed in Dadra and Nagar Haveli with an unlicensed weapon in 2011. Sources say unlicensed firearms are entering metros and other states mainly from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. It is estimated that there are 40 million firearms in India and only about 6.3 million of these are registered. This makes India the second country in the world after United States to possess so many weapons.
In 2010, 2,723 murders took place with unlicensed weapons and 340 with licensed weapons. Again, the highest number was in UP (778 and 114), followed by Bihar (684 and 10) and West Bengal (306 and 1). The trend continued in 2011, a total of 3,368 murders took place with unlicensed weapons and 404 with licensed weapons. In UP a total of 1048 murders with unlicensed weapons and 135 with licensed weapons took place while 500 murders (unlicensed weapons) and 7 (licensed weapons) were committed in Bihar and 317 and 2 occurred in West Bengal.
Former Punjab Director General of Police, supercop KPS Gill said, “The local mafias make unlicensed weapons in UP, Bihar, West Bengal, parts of Assam. Also pipe gums are made in north east and these weapons are used for committing crimes. These mafias have to be crushed and thus the supply chain of these weapons will be cut and also crimes like murders will be come down in these states.”
“They supply these weapons to other parts of the country besides sophisticated weapons in naxal areas,” he added. “Easy availability of weapons, no records and arms smuggling are a few factors due to which murders with unlicensed weapons are common. A feudal mindset is another factor in states such as UP, Bihar, West Bengal and Jharkhand,” said V K Kapoor, former Additional Director General of Police, Haryana.
Besides UP, Bihar and West Bengal, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana are the three other states where murders with weapons are in triple figures. In Haryana, 126 with unlicensed weapons and 17 with licensed ones took place in 2010. In 2011, the figure was 118 and 16, respectively and in 2012 it was 101 and 11, respectively.
Dr Parmod Kumar, Director, Institute for Development and Communication, said, “It is high time the government takes concrete steps so that regulation helps in detection and prevention of crime in the long run.”
According to rules, a person may obtain a maximum of three firearms on one’s licence and also beside one from the home state, a person can get a license of three other states. The rules also state that if the legal licence holder dies, the weapons must be returned to the nearest police station by the next of kin. But often the family and even the police are lax about this. They later make new licences on their name and transfer the weapons to those licences.