NEW DELHI: Possession of private firearms or flaunting guns during celebrations might be perceived as a status symbol in many parts of the country, but a RTI reply has revealed a declining trend of ‘gun culture’ across India in last few years.
Reply received from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to an RTI query by this newspaper has revealed that the trend of possessing private arms came down to nearly 30% between 2916 and 2019.
BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh is the only state that has bucked the trend.
MHA data reveals the total arms licences issued in the year 2016 was 93,811 which came down to 24,028 in 2019 (till September). All the states have shown a declining trend of possessing private arms. In many states like Bihar, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Odisha and the Northeastern states, the penchant for keeping guns hads declined.
On the contrary, in UP the total number private arms issued in 2017 was 4,420 which jumped to 8,970 in 2018 and 9,596 in 2019 (till September). So far, the total number of private arms in the country stands at a whopping 36,75,401, with UP being on the top with 13,08,988.
J&K gun-running racket
The data has thrown some interesting details. A large number of private arms were issued in Jammu and Kashmir — 32,373 in 2016; 16,455 in 2017 and 17,841 in 2018. This was because of a multi-state gun-
running racket in which private arms licences were issued in large numbers on the basis of fake documents. The case was first probed by police and then handed over to the CBI.
During early investigations by police, it was found that norms were thrown to the wind by local officials while granting licences in bulk. The nexus between officials and gun-runners came to light when Rajasthan ATS discovered in 2017 that arm licences were issued to criminals by authorities in districts such as Jammu, Kupwara and Kathua.