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Guns boom, fear grips city

- Illegal arms smuggled from Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 17: Illegal arms have flooded the state capital’s underworld. Even petty criminals have started using guns to loot and rob.

On Tuesday night, five goons fired in the air before fleeing after looting a jeweller at Damana Square. On Saturday night, two incidents were reported in which goons used pistols to terrorise their victims.

In September last year, Saheed Nagar police had arrested a criminal, Sangram Kumar Nath, who was wanted in many cases of illegal gun trade.

Deputy commissioner of police (DCP) Nitinjeet Singh said the man used to smuggle illegal arms from Bihar and other states into the twin cities.

“He was providing guns to various criminal gangs and builders in Cuttack and Bhubaneswar,” said the DCP. Except Nath, Cuttack-Bhubaneswar police have not been able to nab any other arm dealers in the past two years.

Retired police officers said builders and illegal mining owners were responsible for the current spurt in illegal gun trading in the city.

“These people hire goons for their illegal activities in turn giving a fillip to gun trading,” said S.N. Tiwari, former director general of police. A police officer, who had led several raids, said guns entered Odisha from Munger in Bihar, where it has flourished as a cottage industry, from Santragachhi in Bengal and from the mining areas of Jharkhand.

“The smugglers prefer bus routes to trains to transport these weapons,” said the officer.

Sources said illegal guns were being manufactured in places such as Nayagarh, Dhenkanal, Rourkela and Berhampur in the state. The DCP said illegal gun trading was a nationwide problem. “These illegal firearms are smuggled into different parts of the country. We conduct regular raids whenever we get information and will continue to do so,” said Singh.