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Cops sell seized arms to Lashkar

Jammu, July 31: The lid has blown off a racket in selling back seized weapons to militants with the arrest of two policemen in Jammu and Kashmir today.

Head constable Nissar Hussain and selection grade constable Mohammad Ashiq were taken into custody today along with a special police officer, Mohammad Yusuf, and their civilian contact Mohammad Yasin, senior superintendent of police, Doda, Manohar Singh, said.

The policemen are accused of selling weapons seized from militants to the Lashkar-e-Toiba, in return for money and protection to their families. It is suspected that they were paid Rs 50,000 per weapon and Rs 3,000 per grenade, sources in Doda police said.

The police in Jammu’s Doda district had been keeping tabs on the suspects after receiving reports that some policemen were hiding weapons seized in encounters and later selling them to militants. Weapons were also missing from police armouries, sources said.

They laid a trap, sending a surrendered militant as a decoy customer to Mohammad Yasin, who routinely acted as the conduit between the policemen and the militants. Yasin today set up a meeting of the decoy customer with the constables and the special police officer in the jungles overlooking Kishtwar town, 220 km from Jammu and 55 km from the Doda district headquarters.

The policemen were caught red-handed as the deal was about to be struck. Two AK-47 rifles, a grenade and two magazines were seized from them.

“It was recycling of weapons to militants,” Manohar Singh said.

A case has been registered against the policemen under the Indian Arms Act. They have been suspended and a case for their dismissal is being made.

The sources said the racket had been going on for some months at least and the police have launched a verification drive to find out how many weapons are missing.

Usually, guns seized are recorded and kept in safe custody, with the police, CRPF, BSF and the army maintaining their separate armouries.

The government, on occasion, gives these weapons to VIPs for self-defence at a price of Rs 25,000 against a valid arms licence. Retired army officers, politicians and bureaucrats are often beneficiaries. The weapons are also given to policemen on protection duty.

Although there have been reports of policemen helping militants, this is the first case of weapons being sold back to them. Three soldiers and two policemen were arrested recently for alleged links with the Lashkar.

The police have also arrested two SIM card dealers for selling cards to the policemen who supplied them to Lashkar operatives in Gursai, Mendhar and Poonch.

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