In the backdrop of the upcoming elections, the Pune rural police are keeping a close watch on gangs active in their jurisdiction, especially those politically connected, to track illegal weapons in circulation. Senior police officers claim to have information on weapons being circulated, but not enough success has been achieved in busting the rackets. And this is something the police are concerned about.
On January 30, a team from the Faraskhana police under Pune city police arrested two persons and seized four pistols and 20 live rounds from them. One of the accused was Jalindar Bhuruk, son of Shankarrao Bhuruk, a former president of the Velha tehsil unit of NCP. Earlier too, many of the people arrested in the seizures made by both the Pune rural and Pune city police teams were found to have political links.
“Seizure of illegal weapons has always been our priority. It has been observed that cheap firearms are smuggled into Maharashtra from outside for sale. This issue attains more importance when elections are round the corner, not just because of the political links but also from the security aspect,” said Ravindrasinh Pardeshi, Additional Superintendent of Police, Pune (Rural).
“One of the important features of the crime profile of the Pune rural jurisdictions are the feuds over land dealings and land grab. A lot of gangs active in the fringe areas of Pune city and rural police jurisdiction sustain on muscle power. And all these gangs have political support and some of their leaders are even officially members of the political parties,” said a senior officer who did not wish to be named.
The officer added: “With rising prices of land and real estate, a lot of money has been pumped into this. Around elections, we always have to be more alert as a lot of money exchanges hands and gangs get very active. It must be admitted that a lot more needs to be done on creating a network of informants on this subject.”
Even personal licenced weapons are deposited with the local police for some time as a security measure around elections.
In 2012, the Pune rural police seized 26 illegal firearms, and the number was around 15 in 2013. A deputy superintendent of police with the Pune rural jurisdiction said: “We get a lot of tip-offs about the sale and procurement of illegal weapons. But we do not always succeed in recovering them. One of the reasons is that a lot of police stations are understaffed.”