Munger: Condemned weapons of Army smuggled to Maoists, one more smuggler arrested

As many as 35 suspects have been held so far in the case.

According to a report of Hindustan Times, the National Intelligence Agency and the Bihar police have been investigating an arms smuggling case involving smuggling of weapons condemned by the Army.

A former army man Purushottam Rajak is the suspected mastermind of the racket. He was arrested from Jabalpur in September. According to investigators, he was earlier picked up by the army officers in August on suspicion of stealing parts of AK-47 rifles from an army facility. He was later released after initial questioning after he claimed that the parts found in his vehicle were planted.

The case which was earlier being investigated by the Bihar police was handed over to the NIA considering the national security ramifications of the case. According to the investigation of the NIA and the Bihar Police, at least 125 AK-47s, fabricated from parts of condemned weapons of the army, dumped in its stores in Jabalpur and Madhya Pradesh. The weapons reached Bihar’s Munger from where they found their way into the hands of the Maoists. Munger is infamous for its illegal arms factories. Munger police have earlier busted one such racket involving a nexus between officers of Jabalpur’s Central Ordnance Depot and local arms dealers.

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As per Hindustan Times, an NIA official on the condition of anonymity revealed that inadequacies in record-keeping of condemned weapons also helped the accused. “Some of the stores where these condemned weapons were kept were not in good condition. In one case, a portion of one of the walls of a store had collapsed too, making it accessible, These claims will be verified,” he added.

A senior officer of the Indian Army said, “He (Rajak) worked in tandem with those at the Ichapore gun factory (in West Bengal) and sourced some of the components from there…”. Having been an army man, Rajak knew how to fabricate a weapon using sapres from different weapons. According to Inspector General of Police (operations), Kundan Krishna, around two dozen AK-47s have been recovered from different parts of Munger.

Another suspect, who is also a former army man, Mohammad Niyazur Rehman, also has been arrested by the Bihar police in relation to this case. Rehman is a native of Mirzapur Bardah village in Munger.

As told by the NIA official cited above, “Rajak claims that after 2003, he began peddling arms again only in 2012-13 but we doubt… He says that after taking premature retirement from the army in 2008, he settled in Jabalpur. In 2012 he again tried to get in touch with Niyazur and wrote a letter to him but he didn’t get any reply. He sent another letter and this time it was replied to by Niyazur’s brother Shamsher who claimed Niyazur was dead but that he (Shamsher), was ready to do business with Rajak. He found an accomplice, another civilian employee, Suresh Thakur, working in the Central Ordnance Depot and started arms peddling again”.

“Normally he used to carry three AK-47s in his bag to Bihar and never got down at any station. His receiver used to join him on the journey and got down with the bag with the weapons. Rajak took Rs 3.5 lakh for a weapon. His Munger receivers used to sell the weapon at a profit of Rs 1 lakh per gun. An AK-47 could fetch anything between Rs 5 and Rs 7 lakh depending upon the customer,” the official further added.

SP Munger, Babu Ram said, “The racket is far bigger than we anticipated”. Thirty-five suspects have been held so far. On Friday, Bihar Police has arrested one more smuggler, Sarfaraz Alam, in connection with the AK 47 smuggling case.

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