Illicit arms trade flourishing in City

Kathmandu, August 25:

Arms business is flourishing in the capital these days. Among the choicest weapons available in the black market in the capital include country-made pistols, American-made pistols, revolvers and automatic pistols.

“Prices of pistols and revolvers vary. Among the arms available in the black market, a country-made pistol fetches Rs 5,500, the cheapest price for a weapon available in the black market. An automatic pistol fetches up to Rs 70,000 — the highest price” says an arms smuggler.

Two kinds of arms smuggling groups have been operating in the Valley for one-and-a-half years. “Many of them have been working as members of organised outfits, while some have been working individually,” says Uttam Subedi, DSP at the Metropolitan Police Crime Division (MPCD), Hanumandhoka.

Those working individually use “uneducated” people hailing from border areas or people of Indian origin to bring arms to Kathmandu from India, says Subedi.

“But it is difficult to know exactly how organised groups have been operating here. We have clues suggesting they have a nexus with small-time criminal gangs of India, especially with those based in Bihar and other states,” asserts Subedi.

In some cases, the groups are leant to be using a few people working as carpenters, masons and others to smuggle the arms into the capital from India, the police official says. According to him, the MPCD is running after a few groups involved in arms smuggling.

“I am bringing pistols to Kathmandu from India through a mason, who hails from Motihari. The mason gets Rs 1,000 for smuggling a pistol. As it is a risky business, I make sure I get a profit ranging from Rs 2,000 to 10,000 through the sale of each pistol,” a smuggler maintains.

According to SP at the Metropolitan Police Range Sarbendra Khanal, Maoist deserters or those who deserted the security forces have sold some arms in the black market.

Though a few people have been arrested with arms, the police have been finding it difficult to bust any of the professional groups. “This is because the real owner never possesses the arms. He gives it to another person for safekeeping and the third person uses it. The people we arrest for possessing arms know little about others involved in arms smuggling.