In a bid to control the circulation of illegal arms in the city, the Mumbai Crime branch has booked 21 Kashmiri youths and seized 21 weapons and 193 cartridges from them. The weapons, which have not been registered in the city, were being used by the youths while working for a private security agency here.

The licences for the weapons have been issued in Jammu and Kashmir for the purpose of self-protection, Mumbai Joint Commissioner of Police Himanshu Roy said in a press conference here on Thursday.

He said that the police are in the process of verifying if the licences are fake or genuine. Meanwhile, the 21 youths have been booked under Section 30 of the Indian Arms Act.

According to Mr. Roy, the Property Cell of Crime Branch raided a few rooms in Rajiv Nagar slums of Bandra area on the basis of a tip-off.

“There are three violations — according to the Arms’ rules, they [the youths] should have registered their arms with the Mumbai Police Commissioner within 30 days of their arrival in the city. They have been working here for nearly a year now as security guards. All of them have been issued licences in Poonch district. The licences have been issued for self-protection, which means the weapons can’t be used for commercial purposes. These men have been using the weapons as retainers. We are verifying if the licences are fake or genuine. The names of some of the licence-holders do not match with the youths who have been booked,” he said.

All the youths used to work for Modern V R Security Force (India) Private Limited. The police are contemplating legal action against the firm as it is the responsibility of the security agencies to verify the credentials of their employees and the validity of the arms licences issued to them.

“These youths were deployed as armed guards with big banks, malls, jewellers and high-end stores. It is a matter of great concern as the persons entrusted with the security of the people are seen breaching the norms laid down for carrying weapons,” Mr. Roy said.

All the seized weapons are 12-bore weapons. While 15 are double-barrelled, six are single-barrelled.