POLICE IN Maharashtra are exploring the possibility of levelling criminal conspiracy charges against Flipkart after the Aurangabad Crime Branch recovered a consignment of 30 weapons, including 12 swords and 16 knives, that were allegedly ordered online through the e-commerce firm.
According to police, orders for most of the consignments were placed on May 16 by 24 local residents and the weapons reached a courier company’s office for delivery on May 21. The orders were placed days after Aurangabad witnessed clashes over rumours of water connections being disconnected, leading to communal riots on May 11 and 12 in which a boy was killed. The orders were placed under the categories of ‘toy swords’ and ‘kitchen appliances’, said police. The state’s Anti Terrorism Squad is also part of the probe.
Speaking to The Indian Express, ADGP (Law and Order), Bipin Bihari, said: “We are exploring all legal options for booking Flipkart for providing and transporting, knowingly or unknowingly, such dangerous material. Today, they managed to buy choppers and knives, tomorrow it could be drugs or explosives or any other hazardous material. A line has to be drawn somewhere and responsibility needs to be fixed so that e-commerce portals take precautions.”
Flipkart did not respond to requests for comments from The Indian Express. Police officers said such consignments can be placed on other e-commerce platforms too. “E-commerce firms need to conduct due diligence and not allow the sale of such a huge consignment of weapons. We are planning to book Flipkart under Section 120 (B) of the IPC for criminal conspiracy,” said a senior officer from the DGP’s office.
On Tuesday, the Aurangabad Crime Branch seized eight parcels, which contained eight swords, a knife and a khukri (Nepalese knife), from a local office of the courier company. It later seized 18 parcels containing four swords, 15 knives and a traditional dagger from another office of the company. Eight customers who placed the orders have been arrested and the others are being probed, police sources said.
“We are probing if there is a common thread and if the weapons were meant to create a law-and-order breakdown. Records of the customers and the company for the last five years are being studied to see if there is any link,” an officer said.