Ranchi police, who had seized over 1,000 firearms in March-end to ensure peaceful polling in the parliamentary constituency on April 17, will now return the same to licensed owners.
Deputy commissioner-cum-district electoral officer Vinay Kumar Choubey issued an order to that effect on Tuesday.
“Our objective was to ensure safety of voters. People flaunting guns during the polling process could have been scary and dangerous. So, we had seized arms as a precaution. Now that polling has been peaceful, we can return them to their legitimate owners,” Choubey said.
On why the measure was not being stretched till the counting day, he added that the strongroom at Pandra Market was heavily guarded and was being monitored round the clock.
Hence, a gun clash, with the potential to damage EVMs, was unlikely.Since the return order was issued only on Tuesday, city SP Anup Birthare said they had received no application yet.
He added that they were in the process of informing all police stations in the district about the directive.
“We seized around 1,000 firearms. To claim these back, licensed owners have to give police an undertaking that they are taking back the guns for their personal safety and will not misuse them,” the city SP said.
If anyone has obtained a gun licence from either J&K or Assam, he or she will not get the same back in adherence to orders from the Union home ministry, Birthare maintained.
Deputy commissioner-cum-district electoral officer of East Singhbhum Amitabh Kaushal has, however, decided to keep return of firearms on hold till the Verdict Day.
“I don’t know about Ranchi, but as far as I am concerned, the model code of conduct is still in place and voting in four seats are pending. So, for all practical purposes, we will take a decision only after May 16,” Kaushal said.
“Besides, we didn’t take away guns from everyone. We conducted a special screening, as per EC norms, to identify threat areas. For instance, bank guards didn’t have to give up arms. Hence, other legitimate owners can wait a while till the elections are over,” he added.