The arms seized from an illegal factory in a Sonarpur house on Thursday morning. Picture by Bibhash Lodh
Police stumbled upon an illegal arms manufacturing unit in a Sonarpur house which they raided in search of a suspected kidnapper on Thursday.
House-owner Gyan Sagar Sharma and his aides Manoj Jha and Kalikant Jha, all in their early 40s, have been arrested.
Eleven single-shot pistols, two 7mm pistols, 31 cartridges and a used bullet were found in the house apart from several gun-making equipment and spares. A single-shot pistol fetches around Rs 2,000 and a 7mm pistol costs Rs 25,000 in the grey market, the police said.
Ram Kumar Jha, a car mechanic at Renia, around 5km from Garia, had lodged a complaint with Sonarpur police station on Wednesday, stating that his neighbours, Sharma and two others, had abducted him. Jha was released after three days, after his family allegedly paid Rs 2.5 lakh.
Jha also alleged that Sharma had been pressuring him to pay another Rs 7.5 lakh.
“Jha was abducted on July 8. He said he was too scared to lodge a complaint before Wednesday. We had information that Sharma ran a grille factory in his house. When we raided the two-storeyed house we were stunned to find a full-fledged arms manufacturing unit and several firearms,” said Praveen Tripathi, the superintendent of South 24-Parganas police.
An officer at Sonarpur police station said a team had gone to the area on Wednesday night but came back because there was waist-deep water around the house.
“We went to the spot again after sunrise, this time in shorts. Seeing us, Sharma climbed to the roof after cutting the asbestos ceiling with a battery-powered saw and jumped,” said the officer.
Four cops chased him through waterlogged alleys till he fell into a roadside ditch and was caught. “His aides — Manoj Jha and Kalikant Jha — were rounded up from neighbouring houses,” the officer said.
Sharma apparently told the cops during interrogation that he had worked in the army till he was court-martialled eight years ago. He said he had learnt to make guns during his stint in the army and had been involved in illegal arms trade for the past six years. “He has criminal records in Bihar’s Darbhanga, where he used to stay with his family before shifting to Sonarpur three years ago,” an officer said.