Mumbai: Desi guns run city's crime show

Mumbai:  Arms and the men. The link between the killing machine and the criminals has always been one of the favourite parts of the penal lore. The supply chains of firearms are often ingenious, and criminals usually find a way to lay their hands on the one -- suitably priced and easily available -- to accomplish their nefarious activities. The commercial capital of the country too has had its share of the love affair between weapons and criminals -- both big and small.

"The supply system of arms in Mumbai is almost impeccable. The weapons come mostly from three states: Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Whenever any gang or a local criminal wants weapons, they place their orders from these states," an officer of the Mumbai Police said.

Meerut in western UP and Gorakhpur in the eastern part of the state are the two major hubs of arms, whereas Dewas and Ratlam in MP are two key suppliers of weapons to Mumbai. In Bihar, the supply comes from Biharsharif and Aurangabad.

"For example, Rajesh Yadav, an Allahabad-based arms suppliers, has been in a jail in UP. He had been supplying arms for the past 15 years and is wanted in several cases of arms supply to criminals in Mumbai. He also supplied arms to famous gangsters such as Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Rajan," the officer said.

Recently, a crime branch team caught many people and seized several country-made revolvers and cartridges in Mumbai. They had come from UP. "The police got to know that the arms belonged to one Sardarji, who is the known gunrunner in Meerut, UP. He has been supplying to the city for the past many years. There are several villages in Bihar and UP where families are involved in manufacturing weapons," the officer pointed out.

According to the police, the weapons acquired illegally are used for murder, dacoity, robbery and extortion. Local goons in slum areas also like to keep them to wield power.

"In several crimes committed in the city in the past few years, the weapons used were acquired from these three states," the police said, adding that the country-made revolvers, available for anything between Rs 20,000 and Rs 30,000, are in demand.

The police said the weapons are brought to Mumbai mostly by trains or roads. In some cases, the weapons are even delivered by courier companies that are often unaware of the contents of the consignments.

In the late 80s and early 90s, gangsters had a fascination for AK-47 rifles, but now, country-made revolvers are more in demand. However, gangsters now like to possess weapons that have sophisticated designs. Therefore, weapon manufacturers in UP, MP, and Bihar have acquired the technology to make products that look similar to the imported ones.

"Usually, these country-made stuff work fine. But for big assignments, gangs don't compromise on the quality and use imported weapons. In the Farid Tanasha case, an imported weapon was used," a senior IPS officer said, adding that the police depend on patrolling and nakabandis to check arms supply.

"We have seized many weapons during patrolling and nakabandis," said an officer of the crime branch.

The police keep the seized weapons in their custody. After filing the charge sheet, they hand them over to the court. Once the proceedings get over, the country-made weapons are disposed of, while imported ones are auctioned.

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