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Arms dealers held in Maoist bastion

The criminals and the arms seized on them at Rajpur police station in Rohtas on Saturday. Picture by Sanjay Choudhary

Patna, Aug. 11: Fifteen kattas (country-made pistols and revolvers), a double-barrel gun and several cartridges were seized and six men arrested today during three simultaneous raids at four places in Munger and Rohtas districts.

In the first raid, 10 kattas and a number of live cartridges were seized from Mohammad Shamim’s house in Mirzapur Bardih village under Mufassil police station in Munger district. Shamim’s interrogation revealed that kattas manufactured in Munger and Nalanda districts are in demand in Bengal, Assam, Punjab and Delhi.

“The firearms are popular among young criminals because the guns are easy to handle,” Shamim reportedly told the police.

In the second raid, arms manufacturing equipment, including pistol barrels, lathe machines and handling machines were found in the residence of Mohammad Quayum alias Bago at Bardih in Munger district. Quayum, however, managed to flee.

In the two other raids, the police nabbed five arms suppliers from Rajpur and Bikramganj police station areas in Rohtas district and recovered five kattas, one double-barrel gun, seven live cartridges and a motorcycle.

A katta is sold for anything between Rs 6,000 and Rs 10,000 depending on its quality and demand. A good prototype of an original pistol from an ordnance factory fetches Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000. The dealers purchase these weapons at anything between Rs 2,500 and Rs 3,000. Locally made firearms are sold with seals of foreign-made ordnance factories, which helps jack up their prices several times.

The kattas made in Munger and Nalanda command good demand in the market. “At first glance, these weapons made in Munger-based illegal gun factories can easily mislead customers into believing that they have been smuggled from abroad,” Shamim told interrogators. The firearms include 9mm pistols, each of which is sold between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 1.5 lakh.

Mufassil police station house officer Bhai Bharat said a police team from a police station in Bengal’s Asansol reached Munger on August 8 to investigate about Nizam and Aziz, who reportedly supplied local-made weapons to Prabhakar Singh, who was arrested in Asansol a few weeks ago. Prabhakar, a resident of Shitalpur village in Munger, revealed Nizam and Aziz’s names.

Subsequently, a police team, headed by sub-inspector Heman Kumar visited Munger. The police later raided Nizam’s residence at Bardih village in Munger but nothing was found.

A senior Special Task Force officer said illegal weapons from Munger district were being transported in SUVs or in parcels on trains. Punjab police recently arrested an arms supplier from Bihar, who revealed that a big consignment of Munger-made weapons had reached Punjab in SUVs.

Rohtas superintendent of police (SP) Manu Maharaj said a special police team was formed following a tip-off that a big consignment of illegal weapons was to be delivered at Baligaon village under Rajpur police station of the district. “Three men were arrested from there. On the basis of information given by the trio, police raided Salempur Kasba Bal village under Bikramganj police station and nabbed two of their accomplices.” The arrested arms dealers were identified as Shakti Kumar Paswan, Upendra Paswan, Hareram Paswan, Manoj Kumar Singh and Brijnandan Thakur, who used to supply illegal weapons to criminals and Maoists in Bihar and Jharkhand. The dealers confessed to selling Munger-made kattas for Rs 30,000-Rs 40,000 each and disclosed the arms supply route.

SP Maharaj said links of the arms dealers in other states were being verified.