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Govt is selling guns to MPs facing murder charges!

January 16, 2013 13:24 IST
Between 1987 and 2012, 756 guns that have been given to MPs and VIPs across India. Vicky Nanjappa reports

There are two separate set of rules in India: one for the common man and one for politicians and VIPs.

In 2002, the government came up with a unique policy decision to dispose of the many guns seized by Customs officials during their operations. The government decided that these guns could be sold to Members of Parliament and VIPs. Apparently, the security cordon enjoyed by these luminaries is not adequate and they require a personal gun for additional safety.

The reply to a RTI application filed by activist Ambrish Pandey reveals that some of these guns were sold to MPs with criminal records. Some of these guns fall under the category of prohibited weapons and cannot be sold without special permission from the finance ministry.

In some cases, special permission was given for out-of-turn allotment of prohibited guns to MPs and VIPs. Ordinary citizens, even those who have a gun license, are not allowed to purchase such guns.

Between 1987 and 2012, 756 gunsĀ have been sold to MPs and VIPs across India. Of these, 40 guns were classified as prohibited weapons.

Pandey raises the following questions:

Why should such guns be sold only to MPs when several of them already have police protection?

When several MPs have serious criminal cases against them, including 13 with serious cases, why are guns sold to them?

Why should any such policy discriminate against ordinary citizens -- if someone has a license, and is not an MP or VIP why should (s)he not be eligible for such guns?

Does the government track the possession of such guns after some years to check if those who were sold such guns still have them in their possession? It is well known that the black market price for such guns is much higher than what the government sells it for.

Why are prohibited guns (automatic and semi automatic) sold to MPs and VIPs? Such weapons are used by military, terrorist and extremist organisations.

In an earlier practice, guns were leased to Customs department officials who had to return them on retirement. Have such guns been returned in all cases?

Pandey says "This centralised sale point for VIPs under the finance ministry allows the government to follow an ad hoc, discretionary and opaque policy of allotment. For example, a gun was denied to former director general of the Central Economic Intelligence Bureau S P S Pundir, despite the fact that his vigilance-related work posed a security risk, but it was allotted to another officer doing a desk job."

According to data provided by the Association for Democratic Reforms, of the 82 MPs who have been allotted guns from the government, the worst offender is expelled Samajwadi Party leader Atiq Ahmed from Uttar Pradesh.

He has 44 criminal cases registered against him including charges of murder, attempt to murder etc. Ahmed is followed by his former colleagues in SP Abu Azmi from Maharashtra and Rakesh Sachan from Uttar Pradesh, who have seven cases pending against them.

Some prominent politicians who possess these guns are Congress leaders Jayanti Natrajan, Jagdish Tytler, Margaret Alva, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Jayanti Natrajan, Digivijay Singh and Renuka Choudhary, Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha chief Sibu Soren, Bharatiya Janata Party leaders Vinod Khanna, Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar and Vasundhra Raje Scindia.

Vicky Nanjappa