DNA investigation: Licence to kill
This is a discussion on DNA investigation: Licence to kill within the RTI News & Discussion forums, part of the RTI News, Circulars and Decisions category; Reported by Gangadhar S Patil in Dnaindia.com on Jul 22, 2012 DNA investigation: Licence to kill - India - DNA The 1991 shootout at Lokhandwala in which the police killed ...
- 07-22-2012, 10:34 AM #1
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DNA investigation: Licence to kill
Reported by Gangadhar S Patil in Dnaindia.com on Jul 22, 2012
DNA investigation: Licence to kill - India - DNA
The 1991 shootout at Lokhandwala in which the police killed gangster Maya Dolas indicated that ammunition imported for the use of sports shooters had ended up with criminals.
A specific type of ammunition called wadcutter .32 was found at the encounter site. “Wadcutters are used only for sports events. Since I am also into shooting, I knew about it,” said a retired senior police officer. It goes without saying that arms and ammunition designed for shooting as a sport can also be used to kill.
DNA obtained information on the illegal sale of imported arms and ammunition by sports shooters via several Right to Information and other documents, and interviews with sports shooters, arms dealers and police sources.
The central government banned the import of arms and ammunition in 1986. Following this, there are only two ways individuals can import arms: a) NRIs who hold a gun licence in India and abroad are permitted to bring one firearm into the country on each visit; b) ‘Renowned’ sports shooters (who meet a minimum-qualification score) can import arms and ammunition through the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), the central body for the administration and promotion of the sport that comes under the Sports Ministry.
Foreign-made arms and ammunition are superior to Indian-made ones, says a former Mumbai-based shooter. The demand for them subsequently outstripped supply, leading to a dramatic spike in their prices. “This [money involved] is mainly the reason why some renowned shooters sell arms and ammunition they are permitted to import. Arms dealers, in turn, earn lakhs by selling these arms illegally,” says Alok Shetty (name changed), a Mumbai-based shooter-turned-arms dealer.
Rules permit ‘renowned’ shooters to import duty-free any pre-approved firearm and ammunition up to 15,000 cartridges per year. Several shooters often sell their surplus ammunition to individuals or dealers in the black market, said an arms dealer from North Karnataka, who was approached by this reporter posing as a potential buyer. “Often dealers, who buy this ammunition illegally, do not stock this in their commercial premises fearing police raids,” he said, adding that it is “common practice” for dealers to use “old invoices of ammunition imported legally to account for the illegal sale of ammunition bought from the sportsmen.”
“Since the sale is illegal, dealers do not mention them in their books. This means they have no record of the person who buys it from them too which is a problem when the arms and ammunition are misused for illegal activities,” said a senior police officer with the Maharashtra intelligence department.
In May 2009, after learning that sports shooters are misusing their import licenses, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, in a circular, asked every ‘renowned’ shooter to submit an annual ‘return’ detailing the weapons he owns or has sold to NRAI. This would be forwarded to the ministry. But, until April 2011, not a single annual return was filed/obtained, said the ministry in a reply to an RTI query.
Shetty explains the economics behind the racket. “One imported .32 wadcutter cartridge costs between Rs 20 and Rs 40. A sports shooter can get around Rs 80 per cartridge from arms dealers who resell each one to upcoming shooters or criminals for at least Rs 200,” he said. Similarly, a US-made Colt revolver that costs less than a lakh abroad can sell for Rs 3-5 lakh in the black market. The Colt is not a sports weapon, but as explained later, part of the scam involves a few sports shooters importing assault models while claiming to import sports models and selling them for a profit.
One reason for the proliferation in the illegal sale of imported ammunition is perhaps because sports arms licence holders are under no obligation to reveal how they utilised the ammunition they bought. In 2010, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued guidelines that recommended that state governments (arms and ammunition issues being a state subject) ask license holders to report their use of ammunition. But a close reading of the guidelines suggests that is not mandatory for states to follow them.
Besides the illegal sale of ammunition, sources say some sports shooters also import assault weapons in place of sports models by deceiving authorities. These weapons are then sold in the black market.
A former shooter and an NRAI official outline the procedure.
While applying for the import license, sports shooters often do not mention complete details of the weapon required like model name, number and brand. The application form contains only details of the calibre. This means shooters can import anything — sports or assault models — of that calibre. A Mumbai-based arms dealer, who claims to have executed many deals for shooters across the state of Maharashtra, confirms this.
“It is humanly impossible to cross check every imported weapon to see if it fulfills norms notified in 1985 giving specifics of sports models. The customs authorities find the norms too technical to interpret correctly,” says the NRAI official.