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Death leads to weapon bar for homeguards

Lalbazar has instructed all police stations not to issue arms to homeguards after one of them was shot dead last week at Thakurpukur with his service revolver.

Senior officers at the Calcutta police headquarters said the step was taken to prevent a rerun of Saturday’s incident when Raju Goala, a 33-year-old homeguard, was fatally shot with his gun by a man at whose house he had gone to investigate a case of domestic violence.

There were allegations that Goala was not carrying the holster on the left side of his waist, it was not attached to his belt and the revolver’s butt was facing outwards — mistakes that apparently helped his killer snatch the weapon.

“It was a stray incident…. But to prevent a repeat we have asked police stations not to issue small arms to homeguards,” said an officer. “Arms will be issued to homeguards only in an emergency situation.”

The Lalbazar directive said homeguards shouldn’t be posted as sentry and guard — duties that need a cop to be armed.

Sources said no written instruction has been issued barring homeguards from carrying weapons because officially there is no such bar.

Officers said it is not mandatory for homeguards to pass the arms test since they are not permanent recruits of Calcutta police.

“They undergo arms training but appearing for the test is optional. So it’s difficult to ascertain which homeguard has proper arms training,” said an officer.

Sources said a senior constable at police stations keeps record of the “arms issue register”.

“He enters the details every time a weapon is issued to a cop. The OC’s permission is sought when a firearm is issued to a cop who doesn’t carry a gun often,” a sub-inspector said.