For effective anti-smuggling operations and to handle terrorism-related threats,Indian Custom authorities have decided to phase out thousands of its old and obsolete weapons and replace them with state-of-the-art firearms. And the shopping list may include Beretta and Glock pistols,revolvers made in Indian ordnance factories and INSAS assault rifles.
On February 15,a committee headed by the DG Revenue Intelligence opined that the majority of the weapons available with Customs are old and need immediate replacement. In view of the departments expanding role,including tackling terror threats,best weapons should be made available to it,the committee recommended to the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC).
The Customs has over 6,000 weapons,including 1,500 outdated 0.303 rifles,which needs to be phased out immediately. These rifles are likely to be replaced with 5.56 mm INSAS,manufactured by Ishapore rifle factory in West Bengal,according to official sources.
Meanwhile,CBEC has directed the committee,which includes four Customs Preventive Commissioners,to rework norms for arms and ammunition depending upon the actual requirement. After norms are fixed and approved,the process of procurement of arms shall begun,said a senior Customs official.
Apart from rifles and signal pistols,the Customs currently has 65 LMGs,548 SLRs,more than 1,500 pistols of different make and more than 1,500 revolvers. These weapons are now proposed to be replaced with imported or ordnance factory made revolvers and pistols. More LMGs will be procured for newly acquired patrol boats.
These weapons are already loaned to officers for performing anti-smuggling duties,in field formations. According to senior Customs officials,the department has anti-smuggling and border enforcement role but it may have to tackle terror related issues,concerning national security,which requires better equipment and weapons. And due to problem of misfiring,Customs authorities have suggested to replace the revolvers with pistols.
The funding of this massive purchase shall be done through Special Equipment Fund,used for purchasing anti-smuggling equipment and budgetary grants,revealed a senior official.