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Arms surrender drive triggers low response

Over 800 arms licence-holders have surrendered their weapons to the police as part of a preventive measure taken by Ranchi district administration to ensure peaceful polls.

Around 400 more are expected to submit their guns in the district, parts of which fall in Ranchi, Khunti and Lohardaga Lok Sabha seats.

In view of polls, the district administration recently directed arms owners to surrender their weapons to the police to avert misuse.

Senior superintendent of police (SSP) Prabhat Kumar said: “The district has around 6,500 arms licence-holders, out of which around 3,000 possess firearms. All of them have been asked to submit arms.”

During the process that started on Thursday, 800 firearms, including pistols, rifles, double-barrel guns and revolvers, were collected by different police stations across the district so far.

“We are expecting to get around 400 more arms within a day or two,” the SP said.

Nevertheless, even the figure of 1,200 is far less than the total number of licences.

According to Kumar, more than 50 per cent firearms in the district were being used by private security guards hired by banks and businessmen for security’s sake. Those were not supposed to be submitted.

Around 50 arms owners sought exemption, citing security threats. “Though a decision on these applications is yet to be taken, we will have to give exemption to some,” Kumar said.

President of Jharkhand Bus Owners’ Association Krishna Mohan Singh, also an arms licence-holder, supported the exercise. “During elections, people may become aggressive. Also, certain elements target owners of arms. To stop misuse of licenced arms, this exercise is required. This apart, it allows the administration to verify arms and licences,” Singh said.

Not all are happy. “Once the administration has issued someone a licence after verification, why take it back? When arms are available illegally, how does this exercise make a difference?” a person at Lalpur thana asked.