With panchayat elections in Uttar Pradesh now barely a few weeks away, the demand for country made weapons has shot up and the Bihar-made Munger pistols are much in demand.
The police agencies in the state have stepped up efforts to check the trade of such weapons in the state, especially along the UP-Bihar border districts.
According to a senior police official, the arrest of a key delivery man, identified as Guddu Kumar from Munger, from Prayagraj earlier this month, has given key leads to the Special Task Force (STF) that has been probing the network and modus operandi of Bihar gunrunners.
Officials claimed that jailed racketeer, Prem Kumar Singh, who was arrested by the UP STF in March 2017 along with 11 fine-shaped pistols, has a wide network among criminals in east and west UP towns for supplying illegal weapons from Munger, which is the hub for manufacture and supply of illegal firearms.
According to a senior STF official, “The demand for Munger pistols has increased manifold in the current scenario.”
“Despite being costlier, criminal gangs in UP are seeking Munger weapons instead of Khandwa-made illegal weapons.”
The official said, “The demand for Munger pistols is higher because of its fine shape and quality. These pistols do not misfire. Criminals find Khandwa pistols difficult to operate as they often misfire and do not have a sleek shape.”
Sources said that a 0.32 bore Munger pistol is sold between Rs 20,000 and Rs 25,000 in UP towns, whereas a Khandwa pistol is available anything between Rs 10,000 and Rs 15,000.
The prices have registered a 20 per cent increase with panchayat elections round the corner.
“Business in Uttar Pradesh will grow by the day because after the panchayat elections, countdown will begin for Assembly elections that will be held early next year,” said a source.
He further revealed that gun traders decide on the route and manner transportation the illegal weapons.
“We keep changing our modus operandi with every consignment. This takes care of moles that may infiltrate the business and also the police,” he said.
Interestingly, a large number of women are now being used as carriers across the borders.
“We prefer women with small children since they are normally not searched by the police. A large number of women in Bihar travel to UP to work as daily wage earners and we use them as carriers. They get handsomely paid for the job,” source added.
STF sources said that there are around 30 villages in Munger that are involved in the business of gun making.
From single-shot pistols, to assembling more complex western-style pistols and high-in-demand rifles, they have mastered the art.
The industry has flourished despite continuous efforts from the security agencies, to stop the trade.
The STF Bihar is now coordinating with its counterparts in Uttar Pradesh to check this illicit trade.