I want to wax indignant on netas and guns.
Before I commence firing away merrily on that topic though, here is a background update on Gopal Kanda, the Independent MLA from Sirsa (Haryana) who is in the dock over the Geetika Sharma suicide case. Alleged suicide case, as today’s Times of India report points out.
Other than a whopping 63 crores in declared wealth (2009 affidavit), Gopal Kanda has 10 criminal cases registered against him for crimes that are a tad more serious than jumping traffic signals. He also owns a rifle and a pistol – we can assume that those are licensed firearms, such licenses being granted to keep him in good health and safe.
With a record like that, he should be rightfully worried about his own safety!
We can further assume that he and his security staff had every right to indulge in some shooting practice in the Sirsa market in 2011 just because they owned a few guns. Have gun, will shoot, and that, my dear, is that. Boys with toys – and the constituency is their playing field, the voters mere objects for some target practice. Ask some of the UP MLAs who go around firing guns to celebrate electoral victories.
The sublime pleasure (my neta won, so dhinka-chika dhinka-chika, flailing arms, gyrating hips, a Big B like 1-2-1 jig) of a few innocent bystanders turns to agonizing torment in the blink of an eye. Bullets will be bullets after all, especially when they make contact with human flesh and bones. Sometimes one or two die, the bystanders that is – which, thankfully, grants them permanent immunity to any further pleasure or torment; the dead being notoriously famous for their immunity to such worldly sensations.
As is my wont, I promptly checked on the big picture on netas and guns, and the findings do not please me much. Which is a surprise considering I am easily pleased – even simple acts like voting please me, would you believe that?!
Based on an RTI application filed by Ambrish Pandey on the sale of guns to MPs, Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch (NEW) have analyzed the data and came up with the following findings:
- Between 2001 and 2012, 82 MPs have purchased guns from the government
- 18 of these 82 MPs who were sold guns have pending criminal cases against them, including charges of murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping etc., at the time of sale.
- Amongst the 82 MPs who have been allotted guns by the government, Atiq Ahamad from Uttar Pradesh has 41 criminal cases including charges of murder, attempt to murder etc., followed by Abu Asim Azmi from Maharashtra and Rakesh Sachan from Uttar Pradesh with 7 cases each.
- These are guns seized by Customs and then sold to MPs and VIPs on a first come first served basis. In earlier years these guns were sold well below market price. Recently the price was hiked to include tariff.
This raises a few important issues, and I quote from the ADR report:
- 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 the military, terrorist and extremist organizations.
- 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?
According to Ambrish Pandey, “The centralized 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 ex-DG, Central Economic Intelligence Bureau, S.P.S. Pundir despite the fact that his vigilance-related work posed a security risk but allotted to another officer doing a desk job. The evidence shows over 40 exceptional allotments out of a total of 800”.
And what kind of guns are these?
Some of the firearms being sold to these elected ones : Ruger Rifle M-77 Mark 11, Beretta pistol, 0.22 bore Asta pistol, 7.65mm Czech pistol, 7.65mm Walther pistol, Colt revolver, Remington rifle etc.
Ironically, this rather liberal doling out of licenses as well as guns to MPs who move around with state-sponsored security personnel, points my attention towards another fact…….in what could be a new measure of women’s emancipation or just a passing fad, Delhi police received over 500 applications (for a license) from women in 2011. A large number of these women cited “self-defense” as a reason. Only 33 out of those were granted gun licenses.
On the other hand, the netas, some of whom have criminal cases against them, get the license and the gun with relative ease! What is the Election Commission’s stand on all this? How about the judiciary? Are there no laws against this kind of thingamajig? Or are those being subverted to pander to the fancies of elected representatives?
You tell me.
(firstname.lastname@example.org ……..certainly NOT PERU).