In the last seven months, Pune city police have seized 63 illegally-possessed firearms, and data of these cases shows that at least 70 per cent of those arrested are in the 18 to 25 age bracket. The police said rising involvement of youths in group rivalries and their attraction towards guns and easy availability of weapons and ammunition were some of the key reasons behind the trend.
On Tuesday, the anti-organised crime cell of Pune police’s crime branch arrested seven persons, all in their early 20s, and seized four firearms and live cartridges from them. Police investigation further revealed that one of the arrested persons used to work as a delivery boy with an online shopping website but quit three months ago.
“He came in contact with some arms dealers from Madhya Pradesh and has till now made three trips in three months. He has bought country-made pistols for Rs 10,000 and has sold them here for Rs 25,000 to 30,000. He has been earning money like this after he left the job. He came in contact with arms dealers through a notorious criminal who was arrested earlier,” said a staffer from the cell.
Senior inspector Vijaysinh Gaikwad, who is in-charge of the anti-organised crime cell said, “A majority of those arrested in cases of illegal possession of firearms are youths. We have also seen a trend that most of them procure arms at low prices from states like Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, and sell them at higher prices here. In a particular case, one pistol was traded thrice, each time at a higher price. All these youth are in some way linked to local criminal groups who have rivalries with each other over supremacy in their areas. Flexing firearms has unfortunately become a sign of prestige.”
Police said most of the youths have little or no educational background and most were unemployed. Gaikwad added, “We have written in detail to the authorities in these states, asking them to take action against the firearm manufacturing units. The seizures that we carry out here will have little use unless the sources are cut off.”
In the last seven months, the police have arrested 51 people and recovered 63 firearms from their possession. In 2014, the police had seized 113 firearms and arrested 140 people. Deputy commissioner of police (crime branch) P R Patil said, “We are keeping a close watch on criminals and we act on specific information about illegal firearms.”
Newsline has, in the past, reported about the rise in the new class of criminals in rural and fringe areas of the city, where many erstwhile land owners have now become criminals and are into extortion and land grabbing. Most of them also possess illegal firearms.