The National Investigation Agency has concluded that an M16 assault rifle recovered in Jharkhand last year is genuine. The M16 is the standard issue of the American military.
The rifle was seized from suspected Maoist courier Anil Kumar Yadav and arms supplier Prafulla Kumar Malakar,both residents of Bihar,in Hazaribagh on August 29,2012.
The police had also claimed to have recovered Rs 9 lakh and a pistol from Yadav and a bullet-proof jacket from Prafulla.
The NIA had sent details of the rifle to its American manufacturer,Colt Defense,and requested it to verify them.
The firm responded that the number etched on the rifle was genuine,that it was manufactured in the 1960s and given to the US military,which,the NIA believes,used it in the Vietnam War.
The NIA has claimed that the rifle was given to Prafulla by his former prison mate and fellow arms supplier Mantu,who was arrested in Jharkhand the day before the weapon was recovered.
Mantu,in turn,had got the rifle,or so he claimed,from a man in Munger,Bihar. Except Mantus statement,we have no other evidence against that person till now, said an officer.
Yadav was buying the rifle,the NIA believes,for top Maoist leaders Dev Kumar Singh alias Arvindji,Lalesh Yadav and Sandeep Yadav alias Vijay Yadav. Lalesh was killed in a gunfight with Tritiya Prastuti Committee,a breakaway group of the Maoists,in Chatra,Jharkhand,in March.