It is suspected that stolen arms and ammunition were being supplied to Maoists

The Special Task Force (STF) and the Uttar Pradesh police have busted an arms and ammunition racket, involving CRPF and police personnel, following simultaneous raids in Rampur, Moradabad, Kanpur and Jhansi.

Six persons, including two CRPF jawans and a retired sub-inspector armourer of the State police, said to be the kingpin, were arrested. The police seized 5,000 live cartridges, 16 magazines of Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) rifles and about 245 kg of used cartridge shells from them.

It is suspected that arms and ammunition were being supplied to Maoists, as investigations revealed the alleged involvement of some police personnel of the naxal-affected districts of Chandauli, Mirzapur and Sonebhadra in the racket.

According to police sources, the arms and ammunition, allegedly siphoned off from the armoury of the Central Reserve Police Force's 62 battalion Group Centre in Rampur and Police Training College-I in Moradabad, were being supplied to naxalites and anti-socials through a “contact” in Allahabad, whose identity has not yet been disclosed.

Additional Director-General (Law and Order and STF) Brij Lal did not rule out the involvement of more persons in the racket. He confirmed that the security personnel arrested on Thursday and Friday from four different places belonged to the same gang.

How the racket was bust

The operation to bust the arms racket was launched — soon after the April 6 naxal ambush of CRPF jawans in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh — following information received by Naveen Arora, Senior Superintendent of Police, STF, that arms and ammunition stolen from the Rampur centre were being supplied to “anti-socials” through a “person” in Allahabad. It was during this time that the STF came to know about the retired SI armourer Yashodanand Singh, who bought used and live cartridges of different bores and ammunition from different sources and sold them.

Working on the informers' input that a contact person from Allahabad was coming to Rampur to procure arms and ammunition, the STF team laid siege and seized 8-10 bags and arrested three persons under the overbridge on Shahabad road on Thursday.

The arrested are besides, Yashodanand, Vinod Paswan and Vinesh Singh, both posted in the Rampur armoury. The gunny bags contained live and used cartridges of INSAS and AK-47 rifles. The police also seized a mobile phone and Rs.1.76 lakh in cash from the three. Paswan, assisted by Vinesh, supplied the stolen cartridges and ammunition to Yashodanand, the police said.

Following the interrogation of Yashodanand, the STF arrested constable armourer Nathi Ram Saini, posted in Police Training College-I, from the District Eye Hospital in Moradabad on Friday. Another huge cache of used and live ammunition was seized from Nathi Ram, who Mr. Lal said, was to hand over the cartridges to Yashodanand on Friday.

In simultaneous police raids in Kanpur and Jhansi, head constable armourer Bansh Lal and constable armourer Akhilesh Pandey were arrested and a sizeable quantity of cartridges was seized from them.

According to Mr. Lal, interrogation of Yashodanand points to the alleged involvement of Provincial Armed Constabulary personnel of 30 PAC battalion, Gonda, and 36 PAC battalion, Varanasi. Police personnel posted in Varanasi, Kanpur, Basti, Jhansi, PTC-Moradabad, and Chandauli, Mirzapur and Sonebhadra districts allegedly abetted in Yashodanand's activities.