The five states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand account for more than half the country’s 35 lakh gun licences. And according to Ministry of Home Affairs data, given to Parliament earlier this week, almost 13 per cent or 4.57 lakh licences were issued in the last three years.
Data also show that while the five states account for 26 per cent of the population — according to the 2011 Census — they had over 18 lakh gun licences. Jammu and Kashmir, which ranks 18th in terms of population, recorded the highest gun licences per lakh population followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Punjab.
A comparison with the 2011 Census shows that the national average for gun licences per lakh population stood at 296 and 14 states including the North-Eastern states of Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh stood above the national average.
While UP with a population of 19.98 crore had over 12.88 lakh gun licences, making it 644 licences per lakh population, J&K had the second-highest number of licensed weapons where 4.85 lakh licences were issued and the licences per lakh population was 3,859. The insurgency-hit state of Nagaland, which has a population of 19.78 lakh has 38,966 licences.
In Madhya Pradesh, where the population is 7.26 crore, there were 2.58 lakh gun licences issued making it 356 licences per lakh population. Incidentally, Maharashtra, which ranks second in population, had licences issued to 88,018 individuals or 78 gun licences per lakh population.
In India, a district magistrate can grant an arms license, which is valid across the country, to union ministers or MPs, security forces, officials of the All India Services, Officers in the government or PSUs and for sports.
In other cases, the power to grant all India validity is with the state government, which can decide applications forwarded by the concerned district magistrate, according to an official.
The lowest number of gun licences were issued in union territories like Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Puducherry, where 134 and 130 and 298 gun licences were issued, according to MHA data.