Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Gunrunners may have links with ordnance factory staff: Police

28 Jan 2009, 0641 hrs IST, TNN

The gunrunners held from Malda on Saturday night could have a nexus with some employees of the ordnance factories, say police. There were five
sophisticated rifles manufactured by Indian Ordnance Factory in the huge haul unearthed in Kolkata's Baguiati. CID officers have informed the top brass of ordnance factories to examine the weapons seized on Sunday night.

Apart from 25 guns, including five rifles, police found over 6,000 rounds of ammunition, three pen pistols and eight fake gun licenses. It was the arrest of Ashok Mondal and five of his aides that led police to a trader's house and one of the biggest arms haul in the country.

Investigators have found that the gang used fake gun licenses to procure sophisticated weapons from the factories. "Without help of some ordnance factory employees, it is impossible to smuggle out arms and ammunition," said an investigator. CID officers seized more than 6000 bullets of different calibres manufactured by ordnance factories, including bullets used in AK assault rifles.

A defence ministry official, however, said the possibility of such a nexus with ordnance factory employees was highly unlikely. "These ordnance factories are under the defence ministry and the employees are recruited after strict verification of their antecedents. Besides, with the stringent security system in place at the ordnance factories, it is almost impossible to smuggle out weapons," the official said. A senior OFB official added it was the responsibility of arms dealers to ascertain to whom the weapons were finding their way to, as the responsibility of the OFB ended after the weapons were supplied to dealers.

Investigation has revealed that Mondal used to collect arms and ammunition from Allahabad. "The gang used to pay in advance. Then, Mondal or one of his aides would receive the consignment in Allahabad. An SUV registered in Bihar used to carry the consignment to Mondal's hideout. The same car was used to delivery the goods to the customers," said Sidhhanath Gupta, DIG CID Operations.

CID sources said, in 2007, Mondal got in touch with Maoists through a mediator based in East Midnapore. The Maoists mainly purchased ammunition from Mondal. Police are looking for two other persons who are believed to be the kingpins of the racket pumping crores in the trade. CID sources said that one of them is Nemai Das, a group-D staff of Rajarhat Gopalpur Municipality and a resident of Kalipark near Baguiati. The second suspect is said to be the main agent of the trade and is a resident of Dum Dum Park. Since Sunday night, police have raided the homes of both the accused but the duo escaped.

"The Dum Dum Park agent had a set of customers who are important for us," said an investigator. CID officers said the bulletproof jacket recovered along with the arms haul is very advanced. " It is made of fibre and is very costly. Ordinary criminals would not use bulletproof jackets, nor do Maoists. Then, for whom was the jacket procured?" said a worried CID officer.

"The gang had delivered arms to Maoist mediators five times in two years on the banks of Hooghly river in South 24-Parganas," said a CID officer. Investigators have not ruled out the possibility of the consignment having been booked by militant organizations.

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