The bond between arms suppliers and criminal gangs hired for the killing of realtors is worrying the police, writes Marri Ramu

A mixture of potassium nitrate and sulphur in large quantities turns into a lethal weapon. But the combination of firearms and hired assassin gangs, even in low numbers, turns even more dangerous in the world of crime.

With land costs sky-rocketing every passing day and disputes involving mind-boggling amounts of money cropping up every hour, gangs of hired assassins and organised criminals are entering the scene posing a new challenge to the police. What is making things worse is the usage of firearms in commission of crimes by these groups.

If kidnap and murder of a realtor Chalama Reddy from Karmanghat a few days ago sent the alarm bells ringing, the gunning down of another realtor Nageswara Rao in front of his house at Saidabad has made it clear that such criminals are spreading their tentacles.

But, who are these hired killers and where are their weapons coming from?

`Little control'

Investigations conducted thus far proved there are very few cases of firearms being manufactured in or around the city or for that matter in the State. Most of them come from different places in Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Andhra Pradesh police say they have little control over the alleged manufacturing and availability of firearms, which became a cottage industry, in other States. Since the weapons are smuggled by individuals by different modes, police are helpless. Though Hyderabad Police Task Force officials caught many individuals in separate incidents for procuring firearms with the intention of committing crimes, the cases could not be taken to a logical conclusion by tracking down the original source of weapon suppliers.

It may be surprising but the fact remains that in no case till now the police had caught the original firearm supplier either on its own or with the help of their counterparts in other States. After catching the culprits, Task Force police hand over them to local police for further investigation. For reasons best known to the officials, probe never proceeds beyond that.

In the circles of criminals, smuggling of firearms in fact has become a business in itself because a country-made revolver is available for anything between Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 3,000 while its sale here can fetch a minimum of Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 10,000. More than the clandestine sale of firearms, they falling into the hands of organised gangs has becoming a matter of grave concern.

The alleged mastermind behind Chalama Reddy's murder happened to meet the gang of hired killers in jail after being arrested in another offence.

It is to be seen how the police would break the strengthening bond between arms suppliers and organised criminals.