Too many to count, illegal arms still Assamís headache

FP

There is no estimate of the number of illegal arms in circulation. "But there are definitely hundreds of them, sophisticated AK-series types as well as those made locally or within the country," says the DGP. Reports quoting the Union home minister say not less than 1,000 illegal arms have been recovered in Assam since 2010. Seizure counts cite nearly 70 arms in the current year, following 422 in 2011.

There are no two opinions of the fact that the Northeast is one of the most important markets for selling illegal arms and ammunition in Southeast Asia.

About the source, a former intelligence officer says, "The NSCN was once upon a time the largest importer of arms to the Northeast." Both NSCN factions, though engaged in peace talks with New Delhi for more than a decade, still possess huge quantities of illegal arms.

Top anti-talk ULFA leader Paresh Barua too has emerged as a major arms dealer in recent years. "Yes, Barua is into the business of supplying arms," says the Assam DGP, pointing out that the ULFA leader keeps shifting in areas close to the Myanmar-China border and has easy access to Chinese arms. Barua was in fact named, along with a son of former Bangladesh prime minister Khaleda Zia, in the haul of 10 truckloads of illegal arms and ammunition in Chittagong back in 2004.

Various rebel groups also snatch arms and ammunition from the police and security forces or their armouries; even the Army has faced this on least one instance.

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