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Gangs of Nirbheek women

- Beeline for revolver to tackle molesters

Patna, Jan. 29: The pepper spray is passť — ladies get your gun now and be nirbheek (fearless).

A .32 bore revolver specially designed for women has suddenly become the talk of town in Bihar, where incidents of rape registered a growth of about 18 per cent in the past one year.

Upwardly mobile women are showing interest in acquiring this light-weight firearm — christened Nirbheek after the sobriquet given to the Delhi student who was gangraped and killed in December 2012 — to protect themselves while venturing out of their houses.

Of the 300 and odd women who have arms licences in Patna, at least four have purchased the revolver, which is made of titanium alloy and weighs about 500 grams.

Sushma Prasad, a gynaecologist, is among the four licensees to book the revolver. Her husband, Dr Birendra Kumar, said his wife decided to buy Nirbheek as it was easy to carry. “The weapon is so small that one can easily carry it. It can be carried even in a purse or a small-sized bag,” he said.

But the gun doesn’t come cheap. At Rs 1.22 lakh, the weapon isn’t something everyone can afford. Manufactured by the Field Gun Factory, Indian Ordnance Company, Kanpur, it can fire six bullets and is a hybrid of the Webley and Scott revolver.

Neelam Singh, a resident of Haripur Colony in Digha, is another customer of the weapon, as are Rekha Kumari of Bakarbagh-Daldali Road in Kadamkuan and Reena Devi, a resident of East Saristabad. All three women are engaged in business.

“We must thank the manufacturing unit for providing this handgun, which is easy to carry and also to handle,” Reena told The Telegraph.

Police officials also believe that women would feel more secure while carrying the weapon in their bag or purse. “It would certainly work as a deterrent against criminals who harass women at deserted places,” Patna senior superintendent of police (SSP) Manu Maharaaj said. “A .32 bore revolver can hit a target within 25 metres,” he added, praising the gun.

Maharaj said a licensed firearm owner can fire upon their attackers under the provisions of the right to protection of life. “Normally in our society the perpetrators of crime don't expect resistance from the target. If a woman carries a handgun and suddenly whips it out from the bag, they would think twice before indulging in any sort of harassment,” the SSP said.

A senior official of the Kanpur-based Indian Ordnance Factory confirmed that so far four bookings have been made from Bihar for Nirbheek, which was launched in the first week of January.

The officer added that he had received over 50 inquires from Bihar in the past three weeks. “A few of them have expressed their desire to see the weapon first,” he added.

Nirbheek, he said, has been designed keeping the safety of women in mind. “The revolver is capable of firing six rounds loaded in a revolving chamber. Hence, any misfire of a round does not affect the next shot, unlike in a pistol. Positive location of the main spring eliminates malfunctioning as well,” the officer explained.

Bihar, once synonymous with crime of all hues, has registered an increase in the incidents of crime against women in the past one year. While 927 cases of rape were lodged in 2012, the number of such incidents went up to 1,128 in 2013, a rise of about 17.85 per cent during the period.


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