THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala is set to become one of the first three states in the country which would switch to complete digitisation in issuing arms licence and maintenance of related records.
The digitisation mooted by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs aims at creating a National Database of Armed Licence. The gun licensees in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, the three states included in the pilot phase of the project, will be given smart cards with a unique identification number.
According to the statistics with the State Home Department, 8,191 people possessed arms licences as on July 2015. Ernakulam tops the list with 1633 licences, followed by Kottayam, 1,603. Palakkad has the least number of licences, 83.
According to the state police, the demand for licences is low in the state owing to strict scrutiny. The gun licences are issued by the District Magistrates (non-prohibited bore) for self-defence or protection from wild animals. “The number of fresh applications is low. The majority of the existing licences are transferred over generations. Interestingly, many of them keep the guns as a valuable possession inherited from their forefathers,” a top police official said.
“The state police are also against the move from certain quarters to relax the Arms Act at the behest of international arms manufacturers,” he said.
The NDAI, first announced by the MHA in 2012, did not make any headway then owing to the opposition from some North Indian states, including Uttar Pradesh, which have the large number of arms licences. According to a 2013 data, Uttar Pradesh had 11,23,000 gun licences, followed by Haryana 1,44,543 and Delhi 63,329.
The State Home Department officials say they will comply with the new deadline set for the three states - September 31.