Busting an arms smuggling racket, the Bihar Police has, so far, recovered several AK-47 rifles and hundreds of spare parts stashed away in wells, river beds and abandoned houses across the state in the last few days. The rifles were smuggled to Bihar’s Munger district. Meanwhile, the number of deaths attributed to these smuggled weapons are rising alarmingly.
Munger is infamous for being a hotbed for smuggled weapons and a hub of illegal manufacturing of high-quality advanced arms and ammunition for the last several decades. Police began search operation on Saturday, September 29 in various parts of Munger and recovered 281 spare parts of AK-47 assault rifles from the waters of river Ganga. Police found additional 91 spare parts of the assault rifle from one of the houses of one person named Manzar in Wardha village on October 2, 2018.
A report in The Times Of India states that since the 1990s, criminals and thugs in this area have been successful in laying their hands on assault rifles when a large number of them were dropped by a Latvian aircraft in the neighbouring district Purulia in West Bengal in 1995. A good number of weapons were believed to have been smuggled into Bihar at that time too. In 2012, several weapons from the central ordnance depot (COD) in Jabalpur were stolen. Recently, the stolen weapons are being discovered.
An interstate arms smuggling racket was busted in September in which seven people were arrested. One of the arrested, former army man Purushottam Razak, revealed that at least 63 AK 47s have been smuggled out of Jabalpur’s ordnance depot to Bihar since 2012. Old weapons were reportedly being stolen from the COD and were being sold in the black market to criminal gangs. Former Muzaffarpur mayor Samir Khan and his driver were shot dead using an AK-47 in September this year. RJD leader Dina Gope was assassinated on May 12 in Patna by a gun of the same make.
These smuggled rifles are sold at Rs 6-8 lakh per piece. An IPS officer involved in the investigation stated, “We suspect the weapons smuggled out of Madhya Pradesh are sold in other states as well. Bihar has a good market for smuggled arms and Munger is its base.”
What has taken the police by surprise is that all the AK-47s recovered from Munger were all made in the Central Ordnance Depot in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh. Four people – Mohammad Taufir, Mohammad Irfan, Shamsher Alam and Rizwan have been arrested and combing operations in their village Mirzapur Bardah and adjoining villages are underway, looking for the missing cache and additional smuggled weapons.
The police have stated that arrests regarding the stolen cache of weapons have happened in Bengal too. Before the racket was busted recently, the police had information about AK-47 and AK-56 rifles finding their way into Bihar through insurgency-ridden north-eastern states.