With over 6,800 registered firearms and more than a hundred fresh arms licences being issued every year, the trend for procuring weapons seems to be on the rise in the Millennium City.
Statistics on fresh arms licences issued since the Police Commissioner System came into existence in Gurgaon towards the end of 2009 show a steady increase with 107 arms licences being issued so far this year. Though in 2010 just 65 fresh licences were issued, the number shot up significantly to 109 in 2011. Besides fresh licences, there is another category of arms licences issued outside Gurgaon, but re-registered with the local authority when the person holding the licence comes to stay in the city.
According to figures, the number of re-registered licences for the past four years is as follows: 2009 (16), 2010 (173), 2011 (122) and 2012 (158).
Conceding that the number of arms seekers has increased over the years, Joint Commissioner of Police (Gurgaon) Anil Kumar Rao, who holds the powers to issue licences under the Arms Act, said: “Though the applicants come up with all kinds of excuses to procure arms, we mostly allow fresh licences in case of real or perceived threat to the applicant such as in case of a businessman or a retired police officer and transfer of licence on inheritance basis. There are people seeking arms licences to apply for the job of personal security officer, but such requests are mostly turned down especially in the wake of the recent directions from the Ministry of Home Affairs not to be lenient in the matter of issuing licences.”
Even in case of re-registration of arms licences proper verification is carried out to rule out frauds. “We receive requests, mostly from Army officers, settling in Gurgaon to re-register their weapons procured from outside. In such cases, we carry out proper verification before allowing re-registration. In case the licences are procured from disturbed States such as Jammu and Kashmir or North-Eastern States, we insist on receiving verification through post to avoid any fraud.”
Police sources blame the new generation of villagers, who have become instantly rich through sale of land and move around in Sports Utility Vehicles, for the gun culture taking roots in the city. “It is certainly a disturbing trend as these villagers merely want to acquire weapons as a status symbol. They even use political connections to acquire licences,” said a police officer on condition of anonymity.
No surprising then that Gurgaon has been witness to some of the most sensational crimes involving blatant misuse of firearms in the recent past. The most shocking case being that of a 14-year-old school student who was shot by two of his classmates inside the school premises in 2007 following a minor altercation. Similarly, a toll attendant was shot dead from point-blank range by a motorist at the Kherki Daula toll plaza on the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway in September last following an argument over toll payment. The latest incident is the attack on a father-son duo by over a dozen people inside the Intensive Care Unit of a hospital in the presence of doctors and paramedical staff.
As many as 134 people have been gunned down in Haryana in 2011, according to the National Crime Records Bureau report.