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Take aim to bust small arms smuggling



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By Nayak Paudel/Santosh Subedi
Kathmandu/Siraha, June 18: Frequent confiscation of small arms show that the authorities need to intensify coordination and surveillance to control their smuggling.
According to Nepal Police data, 324 small arms were confiscated till May 14 of the Fiscal Year 2020/21. Similarly, 338 arrested individuals were charged under Arms and Ammunition Act, 1962.
in FY 2018/19, 284 small arms were seized and 361 individuals were arrested.
As per the Sub-section 2 of Section 3 of the Act, no person shall manufacture, repair, have in his/her possession, or put or cause to put any arms or ammunition without a license in defiance of the terms and conditions as specified in the licence. Any person found committing the offence is liable to a punishment of up to seven years alongside several thousands in fine as determined by the respective Chief District Officer.
The cross-border smuggling from India is said to be a major reason behind the rising smuggling and use of small arms in Nepal, with the bordering Terai districts being most affected.
In Siraha, the district police seized three pistols in the last one month alone. Investigating officers said that the arrested confessed that the guns were smuggled from India. Through Siraha, the arms are smuggled to other disricts including Kathmandu.
Local katuwa pistols, after being smuggled, is said to cost from Rs. 4,000 and up to Rs. 7,000 in Nepal. In the past three years, 270 different types of pistols were seized across the country. That includes 12-bore guns and American and Chinese pistols.
The cross-border smuggling from India is said to be a major reason behind the rising smuggling and use of small arms in Nepal, with the bordering Terai districts being most affected.
“Small arms are usually an easy weapon to carry and they can frighten the criminal’s target,” said Superintendent of Police (SP) Hira Bahadur Pandey, chief of Siraha District Police office.
On June 5, 40-year-old Ram Sagar Safi was shot by a group of unidentified individuals while he was at his medical shop in Mirchaiya, Siraha.
On June 7, 45-year-old Gayatri Devi Sah of Mahottari, was shot in her left leg by a group of thieves as she shouted for help. They took away jewelleries, mobile phones and cash from her house.
Kapilvastu also recorded a shooting incident recently in which one died and eleven individuals were arrested.
“Even if an individual possesses a gun without an intention of firing it on someone, s/he can use it when in rage. Guns can lead to unprecedented fatalities,” said Hemanta Malla, retired Deputy Inspector General of Police.
Malla said that criminals with weapons are hard catch for the police.
Many individuals secretly possess bharuwa banduk, a locally made muzzle-loader, mostly for hunting purpose. However, when in dispute or rage, even it may be used to harm others.
On April 22, 28-year-old Pratap Limbu was arrested in Taplejung for murdering his neighbour, 50-year-old Khadak Bahadur Limbu, with a bharuwa.
“We cannot close our open border but we can increase surveillance through technologies such as CCTV cameras and drones, along with the coordination with Indian authorities to improve the intelligence and bust smuggling rackets,” said Malla.
Nevertheless, Nepal Police stated that they were aware of the facts and have been taking necessary steps. The Ministry of Home Affairs also requests public often to submit arms, if possessed, to the nearby security unit of any security agency, including District Administration Office.
We are watchful about small arms and confiscations are being made. But it is the cross-border smuggling that is hard to control. We have been increasing patrol and coordinating with our Indian counterparts,” said Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Basanta Bahadur Kunwar, the central Nepal Police Headquarters spokesperson.