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Govt may tighten arms licence norms

By Sanjoy Ray

GUWAHATI, April 28 � In a significant development, the State government is planning to virtually shut the door on surrendered or pro-talk rebels of various banned outfits denying them easy access to licensed arms.

In view of the spurt in shootout cases in the State, the government, it is reliably learnt, is now miffed at the blatant use of arms leading to frequent derailing of the law-and-order situation.

Use of gun power for business purposes by licensed arms holders has also emerged as a pain in the neck for the administration.

Acknowledging that there could be a steep rise in the number of applicants seeking arms licences in the days to come, a source at Dispur said, �Going by the number of rebels that have laid down arms in the last couple of years of so, there is an ardent need to work on the existing criteria.�

Assam has in recent years witnessed a steep rise in cases registered under the Arms Act. In the span of last three years, over 1,500 cases have been registered under the Arms Act.

While 413 cases were recorded in the year 2008, the figure rose to 534 in the succeeding year. In 2010, over 400 cases were registered with different police stations across the State.

�Unless one makes a serious case, the licence to carry arms would not be issued, especially to those with a criminal background,� the sources said.

The status of licensed arms holders was reviewed just before the elections.

�Of course, in most of the recent cases of illegal use of arms, the weapons were unlicensed but there have been grievous incidents involving licensed arms too,� the sources pointed out.

However, the sources could not divulge the number of former militants using licensed arms across the State, though it maintained that the status of each one of them would be reviewed.

Around 15 Guwahati-based SULFA leaders, including Sailen Dutta Konwar, who is now in police custody, are having licensed arms.

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