Police suspects ‘interstate gun license racket’ exploiting Nagaland’s loopholes

Sheikh Shahjahan, the suspended Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader from Sandeshkhali in North 24 Parganas district, West Bengal acquired three firearms with licenses issued in Nagaland. This discovery hints at a potential interstate gun license racket exploiting loopholes in Nagaland’s regulations.

As per a report by Tanmay Chatterjee for Hindustan Times, Shahjahan bought the firearms from an authorized gun dealer in Kolkata between 2016 and 2019 against licenses issued in Nagaland. This revelation comes after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) recovered a cache of arms and ammunition from the home of another TMC leader’s relative in Sandeshkhali on Friday.

As per the police records, after procuring the licenses from Nagaland, Shahjahan bought a .32 bore Mauser pistol made in Germany, a .32 bore Smith and Wesson revolver made in the US and a 30.06 bore rifle made by the Indian Ordnance Factory in Ishapore in West Bengal.

“Kolkata Police verified the unique identification number of these Nagaland licenses from the Union home ministry’s portal (National Database of Arms Licences, or NDAL) and permitted Shahjahan to purchase the weapons from the Kolkata dealer. Permission was also given to purchase ammunition for these weapons,” Hindustan Times quoted a police officer with access to the records.

However, according to a second police officer, the Indian Arms Act does not allow a citizen with permanent address in one state to apply for a gun license in another state without special permission from the home state or the Union home ministry.

It was further revealed that even in the past investigations, it was found that numerous people that applied for gun licenses in Nagaland showed a local address in Nagaland as their permanent address, indicating potential irregularities in the licensing process.

“In fact, it came to our notice that a specific address in Nagaland was cited as permanent address by multiple applicants from various states,” the police officer revealed.

“This is an interstate racket run by middlemen, gun dealers and government functionaries,” stated the police officer. “The Delhi and Gujarat police no longer allow gun dealers to sell weapons to people having licenses from Nagaland”.

The police suspect that Shahjahan must have procured his licenses through this racket. “Police authorities in Bengal are very strict about issuing gun licenses. More than 90 % applications are rejected after scrutiny.”

According to HT, the CBI said that Friday’s raid was conducted in connection with the January 5 mob attack on a team of Enforcement Directorate officials who went to Shahjahan’s Sandeshkhali residence to question him in an alleged public distribution system scam.

It may be noted that Shahjahan who stayed in hiding for 55 days was arrested by local police on February 28 and handed over to the CBI following Calcutta high court orders.

The CBI is also probing allegations of land grabbing and sexual assault on local women faced by Shahjahan and two other TMC leaders. All three are in judicial custody.

MTNews Desk

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