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Meghalaya turns into hub for illegal small arms

K Anurag in Guwahati | September 10, 2008 19:29 IST

The Northeastern state of Meghalaya has witnessed the mushrooming of illegal mobile small arms manufacturing units in certain areas bordering Bangladesh that are catering to the ready market among criminals and militants in the region.

Though the Meghalaya police have carried out many operations in recent times to bust such illegal arms manufacturing units, it has failed to stem the menace. The police have destroyed many such small arms factories in various parts of Cherrapunjee and Mawsynram in East Khasi Hills district of the hill state in recent past. But the factories again come up once the police lower their guard.

The police informed that country-made revolvers made in these illegal factories in Meghalya are available in the grey market for Rs 2500 apiece and that is much cheaper compared to a regular revolver available in the market.  There are middlemen who trade in these weapons and bullets, as those have to be procured from other places.

The Meghalya police informed that most of the small arms manufactured in those illegal factories are used by criminals and militants from the region. The police recently arrested militants belonging to Khasi tribe outfit, Hynnewtrap National Liberation Council with country made arms made in those factories.

In order to discourage local blacksmiths from working in those arms factories, Meghalaya government in the past had offered rehabilitation package to villagers involved in the business, but there was hardly any takers.

The police face immense difficulty in keep tab on all such small arms manufacturing factories given their locations in most remote areas high up in the hills amid dense forest.

It may be mentioned that Shillong has of late become one of the meeting points of arms dealers and buyers in the region. A large quantity of the small arms manufactured in illegal arms factories in Bihar also land up in the hill city that is well connected through road by most of the states in the region.

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