What does BSP’s Mayawati, Congress’ Janardhan Dwivedi, BJP’s Shahnawaz Husain and jailed Mohd Shahabuddin have in common?
They are among the 750 MPs or VIPs who have bought confiscated arms in the past 25 years, an RTI reply has revealed.
While the Arminious and Erma revolvers were a hit among the VIPs during the early 1990s, Webly revolvers replaced them in the late 1990s. However, the last decade saw .22 bore revolvers and 7.65 mm Walther pistols being preferred.
In the reply given to an RTI filed by activist Gopal Prasad, the Commissioner of Customs (Preventive) said 75 MPs, including Dwivedi, Atiq Ahmed and Abu Azam Azmi, have bought various firearms from the government in the last decade.
According to a July 2002 circular by Finance Ministry, confiscated weapons can be sold to sitting MPs on first come fist serve basis after receiving their confirmation in writing that they do not own or possess any weapon at present.
UP Chief Minister Mayawati bought an Arminious revolver in February 1991 for Rs 4,900 while Dwivedi bought 0.32 bore S&W revolver for Rs 1.45 lakh in the second half of last decade.
Former MP Atiq Ahmed, now in prison and facing trial in 35 criminal cases including several cases of murder, has spent the highest amount among the VIPs to buy a rifle ‘Rugger M-77 Mark-II 30.66 mm’ at a cost of Rs 3.15 lakh. Azmi opted for a PPK pistol for Rs three lakh.
Kalmadi, who is now in Tihar prison pending trial in CWG scam, bought a Webly revolver in 1995 for Rs 9,150 while another jailbird Shahabuddin procured a S&W revolver in 2001 for Rs 43,507.
Babubhai Katara, who was arrested for allegedly running a human trafficking network, was also in the race for buying a weapon and procured a Webley revolver in 2000 for Rs 59,215.
BJP MP Ashok Argal, whom Delhi Police wants to arrest in the cash-for-vote scam, and his party colleague Faggan Singh Kulaste, who is in prison in the same case, also bought a Webley revolver for Rs 9,000 each. Interestingly, Kulaste bought the weapon a day after Argal bought it on May 13, 1997.
Among the present Union Ministers, Jayanthi Natarajan, Preneet Kaur and M Vincent Pala figure in the list.
Natarajan bought a RS revolver way back in 1991 for 4,900 while Kaur got a Magnum Rugar revolver nine years later at a cost ofRs 34,065. Pala also bought a pistol.
While he was the Chief Election Commissioner, M S Gill procured a S&W revolver in 1999 for Rs 24,750.
Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman K Rehman Khan bought an Arminious revolver in 1994 for Rs 9,000 while S S Alhuwalia, Deputy Leader of BJP in Rajya Sabha, owns a 30.06 rifle which he bought in 1992 for Rs Rs 2,389.
Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Shivraj Singh Chouhan, presently Chief Ministers, also bought fire arms in 1992 and 1993 while Hooda’s rival Ajay Chautala bought a Star pistol in 2000. Sukhbir Singh Badal, Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab, bought Llama pistol in 1997 for Rs 7,000.
Delhi politicians Jagdish Tytler (.32 Browning pistor in 1989), V K Malhotra (.22 Benetla pistol in 1990), Madanlal Khurana (Walther pistol in 1993), Sajjan Kumar (Webly revolver in 1996) and Vijay Goel (S&W revolver in 1999) also find a place in the list.
Another Delhi politician to buy a firearm is present Delhi Speaker Yoganand Shastri got a 0.32 bore S&W revolver for Rs 1.40 lakh in the second half of the last decade. Senior CPI(M) leader Subhashini Ali who bought an ERMA revolver in 1991 for Rs 5,075.
According to the Finance Ministry guidelines, confiscated non-prohibited weapons could be given to departmental officers on lease terms on a selective basis.
The circular also makes it clear that the weapons sold to sitting MPs could not be sold for a period of ten years.
Though some names appeared more than once in the list during a period between 1986 and 2000 given in the RTI reply, the 2002 circular says that only one weapon will be allotted to an MP from the confiscated stock.
No replacement will be permissible even in cases the first weapon allotted has either been lost or stolen or become defective or non-serviceable due to excessive use or obsolescence, the circular said.