While the Punjabi mens love for weapons is legendary,information shows that the states women are fast catching up in terms of acquiring arms and learning how to use them. And these weapons are not just an addition to the family weapon list with many women actually learning how to shoot.
Information acquired by a Faridkot-based journalist under the Right To Information Act (RTI) shows that in Punjab,some 31,300 arms licenses have been issued to women and 31,026 of them have in actuality purchased arms. Arshdeep Kaur,a Faridkot-based teacher who is employed in a government school is one of them. She explains: Each day I travel some 18 kilometres for work and at times I too have to venture out at odd hours. Keeping a weapon gives me a sense of confidence and safety. And I know how to fire too.
Leading the way in the state seems to be the Bathinda Member of Parliament(MP) and wife of Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal – Harsimrat Kaur Badal. The MP owns an arms license that allows her to keep three weapons and also holds permission to carry the weapons any where in India.
As per the RTI information,Patialas women lead the list with 1,361 of them acquiring arms licences,while the womenfolk of Jalandhar follow with 1,032 of them possessing arms licences.
In Amritsar,962 woman have the licences,while in Mukstar 768 of them do. The information shows that 372 women in Faridkot have arms license while in Moga 669 women,Mohali 690 Bathinda 162,Mansa 16,Ferozepur 79,Gurdaspur 396,Pathankot 182,Fatehgarh Sahib 161 and Hoshiarpur 352 women have arms licenses to name a few. There are some 162 licenses in Jalandhar district that are owned by women who stay overseas. These weapons are currently in the custody of the the police.
Women too have right just like men to keep a weapon, says Ravi Bhagat,Deputy Commissioner Faridko. IPS officer Gurpreet Kaur Deo IGP Jalandhar Zone adds: Awareness these days is high as women travel alone,go out to work and so a weapon for security purposes is legally permitted. Just like a mobile helps one maintain accessibility,a weapon too helps a women feel more secure.
The state police seems to have taken note of the new trend. The force recently recruited some 2,200 women and those who could use a weapon were given preference.