BHOPAL: In the land where twirling moustaches are a symbol of pride, guns are a natural choice for any battle — electoral or personal.
Welcome to Madhya Pradesh’s badlands of Gwalior-Chambal where unforgiving ravines and their treacherous spread hide more than what meets the eye.
That’s one feature of it — years after the government wiped out bandits.
The figures of licensed guns deposited at police stations in seven districts of the region ahead of the Assembly bypolls speak volumes about the harsh reality.
Over 1.04 lakh licensed guns have so far been deposited following the model code of conduct and district administration orders, shows data collected by this paper.
Police sources say the deposited licensed weapons include 12 bore guns, 315 bore rifles, besides revolvers and pistols.
Maximum 29,000 guns have been deposited in Gwalior district, followed by 27,000 in Morena, 22,000 in Bhind, 10,000 in Shivpuri, 8,000-plus in Datia, 4,500-plus in Guna and 3,800- plus in Ashok Nagar.
In the other districts, the number is much less – 7,000 in Sagar, 2,500-plus in Indore, 5,500 plus in Dhar and 4,000-plus in Mandsaur. An IPS officer said the gun culture runs in the life blood of the region.
Historically, since the Mughal and the British era, the region has been famous for warriors and guns. Another senior police officer said the quantity and quality of guns held by a family determine its social status.
There was a time when holes in tents made by bullets fired in air decided the grandeur of marriages in the region, which also has a large number of Army personnel and gun-owning private security guards.
The emotional attachment to guns is visible in the Civil Lines police station area of Morena: Farmer Kalicharan Sharma kissed his 12 bore gun before depositing it.
“I’m depositing my family’s honour till elections are over. Had we not been ordered to compulsorily deposit the licensed fire-arms for holding free and fair polls, I would have never allowed the family’s pride to go elsewhere.” The long queues of gunwielding licensed weapon holders included an old farmer, Vrindavan.
“I’m the father of five sons, plus one non-living — 315 bore gun that protects me and my family. Depositing this gun is like surrendering my son to someone....”
Out of the 28 Assembly seats going to polls on November 3, 16 are in Gwalior-Chambal.