There are nearly 100 private security agencies -small and big- hiring close to 60,000 persons as guards. Police estimate that over 5,000 of these guards are possessing firearms, mostly hailing from north and north-eastern States

The usage of fake firearm licenses by some guards of private security agencies has already been unearthed during recent inspections by police. The paradox is even the investigators are not sure how many such fabricated documents and illegal firearms are in operation in the State capital!

There are nearly 100 private security agencies -small and big- hiring close to 60,000 persons as guards. Police estimate that over 5,000 of these guards are possessing firearms, mostly hailing from north and north-eastern States.

Though the Centre in 2005 and the State four years later brought into force the Private Security Agencies (Regulation) Act, no specific system was evolved to enforce it. Glaring malpractices -having potential to create serious law and order problems- came to fore when the Hyderabad Police Commissioner’s Task Force raided some agencies a fortnight ago.

They claim that 17 gun licenses found with the guards of two agencies appear to be fabricated and they were using 16 guns illegally. Among the 17 arrested persons was a retired military officer of the rank of a colonel. The agency led by the arrested ex-serviceman didn’t even obtain the mandatory license from the Home department.

“This practice of hiring persons with fake gun licenses and illegally obtained firearms is not confined to a single agency. More skeletons would tumble out of cupboards if a thorough inquiry is held,” a police officer involved in investigation of two cases remarked. Interestingly, this is not the first time that TF officials cracked such illegal firearms possession by security guards.

Manmohan Singh, employed as private gunman by Bhanu Kiran, who allegedly murdered factionist Maddelacheruvu Suryanarayana Reddy alias Suri, explained to his interrogators how a big racket of fake firearm licenses was thriving in Hyderabad. Since there is high demand for armed security guards in Hyderabad, many persons coming from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and north-eastern states are coming to city with weapon licenses.

“While they claim the licenses were issued by their respective State Governments, no one bothers here to check genuineness of the documents and land in jobs. Even the weapons are purchased illegally,” he told his interrogators. As per law, a person coming from other States with a firearm, should re-register his license with the local authorities here.

“With no one to scrutinise their records, they went to a stage where the guards created fake re-registration documents using fake rubber seals of North zone DCP office and other officials,” an investigator said. From 2003 onwards, Hyderabad police had been busting cases of security guards possessing firearms presenting fake documents.

Still, some private security agencies and guards continue to do so thanks to the absence of a system to examine their activities.

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