The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bihar link in licence haul

Guwahati, Jan. 13: The arms licences, issued by the Nagaland government and seized from a Bihar-bound passenger on the Brahmaputra Mail, has raised suspicions that those could be used for procuring weapons during the Assembly elections in that state next month.

Railway Protection Force personnel seized 45 arms licences from Harishankar Singh, a resident of Bihar, who had boarded the train at the Guwahati railway station. 'The licenses were found in Singh's suitcase during a surprise check on Tuesday afternoon,' superintendent of Government Railway Police (GRP), Jiban Chandra Koch, today said.

A ban has been in force on issuance of arms licences for nearly 10 years in Nagaland, official sources said from Kohima this evening.

Singh, in his early forties, is from Sarbu Singh Kotola village under Brahara police station in Ara district of Bihar. Singh has been remanded in four days' police custody after being produced in court yesterday.

'From preliminary investigation we suspect that the licences may have been used to procure arms for the Bihar elections,' Koch said.

A police officer associated with the investigations said Singh was frequently changing his statements during interrogation. 'Though the licences look genuine, we will have to confirm with the Nagaland government,' he said.

He said Singh has confessed that he had earlier procured arms licenses from Nagaland for residents of Bihar and West Bengal. 'He told us that he sent those licenses to the applicants through courier,' the officer said.

'We are investigating why people from Bihar needed licences from Nagaland,' a GRP official said. 'We have strong reasons to suspect that some officials of the Nagaland government may also be involved in the racket.'

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