Several armed private security guards and criminals of Assam possess firearms bought using fraudulent arms licences procured from Kangpokpi in Manipur and Dimapur in Nagaland.
Sources in the criminal investigation department (CID) of police, which is investigating the matter, said the arms and ammunition procured by using these licences, many of which were fake, had become a threat to public safety and a major concern for security forces.
“If anybody commits a crime with a firearm procured through these licenses, it becomes very difficult for police to track him down, since these licences do not have the complete address of the license holder,” a CID official said.
He added that two licensed gun shops in the city had also come under the scanner, as they were allegedly selling arms and ammunition to the fake licence holders in exchange for a hefty sum of money, without proper scrutiny of the licences and antecedents of the licence holders.
“In fact, there is an inter-state racket that is providing the fake licences to residents of Assam from places like Kangpokpi sub-division in Senapati district of Manipur and Dimapur, the commercial capital of Nagaland,” the official said.
“During the investigation, it was found that 41 arms licenses with all-India validity and with incomplete addresses were allegedly issued by the additional district magistrate of Kangpokpi sub-division, Lumni Thang Haokip, to residents of Assam,” he said.
Further verification by CID had revealed that Manipur government had cancelled 11 of these licences after these irregularities came to light. But no records relating to 21 of these licences were found in the gun licence register at Kangpokpi additional district magistrate’s office, implying that these were fake licences.
“There must be some foul play. Otherwise, why would a resident of Assam go all the way to Kangpokpi and Dimapur to get an arms licence instead of applying in his home state?” he asked.
He added that since most of these licences had incomplete addresses and some even fake, it was apparent that some middlemen were involved in the racket.
The source said according to Section 15 of Arms Act, a gun licence was valid for three years from the date of issue, following which it needed to be renewed. “But these bogus licences, which were issued in the year 2004 and 2006, have validity up to December 31, 2011, and December 31, 2012,” he said.
“No records of verification of the licence holders were found at the office of additional district magistrate at Kangpokpi and no record of recommendations by the district magistrate of Senapati district to issue arms licences to residents of Assam could be found,” the source added.
According to rules, the licensing authorities need to furnish information, along with a copy of the licence, to the district magistrate having jurisdiction in the place where the business or residence of the licensee is located. “But in this case, no record of sending any such information to the district magistrates concerned were found at Kangpokpi,” he said.
He said it had become a common practice for a section of people in Assam to seek gun licences from other states, particularly Manipur and Nagaland, if their application back home was rejected.
“Though we have arrested some persons and seized many such licences since last year, many persons in the city, who possess weapons and ammunition purchased on the strength of fake licenses, are yet to be detected,” he said.