Gunning for Guns

first_imgLast month, the Amritsar Police rushed to the scene of what they believed was the kidnapping of a bank executive. The victim, Pawan Sharma, was allegedly dragged away by unidentified persons in the early hours. The caper was unravelled the same day when it was discovered that Sharma had staged,Last month, the Amritsar Police rushed to the scene of what they believed was the kidnapping of a bank executive. The victim, Pawan Sharma, was allegedly dragged away by unidentified persons in the early hours. The caper was unravelled the same day when it was discovered that Sharma had staged his kidnapping to obtain an arms licence. Recent executive orders from the Union Home Ministry specify gun licences can be handed out only to “persons who may face or perceive grave and imminent threat to their lives”. You could be a coffee planter in Coorg trying to protect your estate from marauding wild boars or a trader in Kanpur worried about the spurt in kidnappings, but you will get a new arms licence only if you can prove an imminent threat to your life, which has to be verified by the police.Chidambaram feels that proliferation of arms is disturbing law and order.The new directives follow a proposal by Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram to undertake the most radical modification of the Indian Arms Act since it was enacted in 1959. From an obligation to give out an arms licence, it has now become entirely discretionary. If it was earlier only difficult to obtain an arms licence, it will now be virtually impossible for the aam admi to own a gun. The proposed Arms (Amendment) Bill 2010 which has been circulated in Parliament only talks about making police verification mandatory. But the executive orders issued by the Home Ministry to state home secretaries on March 31 push for far stringent restrictions like arms applications only for those able to prove an imminent threat to their lives. This modification in the arms policy has incensed a small but influential group of pro-gun lobbyists, the National Association for Gun Rights India (NAGRI), which has coalesced around senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh, and is pushing for a status quo. They are in favour of police verification but argue that the stealthy executive orders are an infringement of personal liberty and creates a new caste system of elite gun owners. A view that is not shared by NGOs like the Control Arms Foundation of India (CAFI) who support stricter gun laws. Digvijay, who recently took on the home minister for treating the Naxal problem as a law and order issue, has once again crossed swords with him as the chief patron of a lobby that espouses the right to bear arms. The reason may not be too far to see.Gun ownership is an emotive issue, especially in north India where these are flaunted as status symbols and fired at weddings. Districts in Madhya Pradesh have promised to fast-track gun licences as an incentive for vasectomy. Guns are a substitute for a non-existent rule of law: armed villagers in Bihar’s Kaimur district used their licenced rifles to rout a group of Naxals after a 26-hour firefight.advertisement”We are not a healthy democracy. Rules are bent with impunity and politicians twist the law to hand out arms licence to their stooges,” says Prakash Singh, former DGP, Uttar Pradesh, welcoming the modifications. “It is a draconian law which seeks to dilute constitutional privileges of right to life and property. Why should only MPs and Government officials be eligible for licences, why not the common man?” asks BJP MP S.S. Ahluwalia.”The changes are essential. Existing rules are bent with impunity by politicians to hand out arms licences to their stooges.”Prakash Singh, Former DGP, Uttar Pradesh”It is a draconian Bill. Why are only MPs and Government officials eligible for licences, why not the common man?”S.S. Ahluwalia, BJP MP The debate has begun reverberating within the corridors of Parliament. At least a dozen MPs from the Congress and the BJP, including Digvijay, Jaswant Singh, Naveen Jindal and S.S. Ahluwalia, recently met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to protest against the Bill. Manmohan is believed to have shrugged and said that the Home Minister had some persuasive arguments to limit gun licences. The gun lobby says that the tightening of the provisions of the Arms Act of 1959, which made it obligatory for the Government to provide arms licences if the citizens met all the requisite criteria, comes at a time when the home minister has admitted to India having among the lowest police-to-population ratios in the world. The Bill is silent on sports shooters who have brought international fame to the country. “There has to be a different set of rules for sportspersons otherwise the sport will die,” says former Indian shooting ace Moraad Ali Khan and now government observer (shooting).advertisementChidambaram has trained his guns on the Arms Act ostensibly because he believes State Governments may be issuing arms licences liberally. “Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district has just 500 gun licences whereas Gurgaon, which is the size of just one of its tehsils, has over 10,000 arms licences,” says a district magistrate in Haryana, welcoming the modifications. The Bill mentions the proliferation of arms and ammunition disrupting social order and “proliferation of arms, whether licenced or illegal, vitiating the law and order situation, and holding of sophisticated arms by the conflicting parties directly contributes towards lethality of violent acts”.The arms lobby says the Bill is fundamentally flawed and the Home Ministry has not conducted any research to prove any of these conclusions. “The new Act violates the basic principle of the citizen’s right to self-defence. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) figures say that licenced firearms are used in less than 2 per cent of all murders,” says Rahoul Rai, president, NAGRI. The grouping also takes exception to licenced owners being lumped with those holding illicit arms. There are no estimates as to the total number of licenced and unlicenced firearms in the country (the executive orders seek to establish a central database of legal arms) but then India is a haven for illicit arms, particularly the North and North-east. CAFI estimates say that since 1990, security forces in Jammu and Kashmir and the North-eastern states have seized over 40,000 illicit firearms.The Bill is among a series of Government moves since the introduction of the Arms Act that makes it progressively difficult for citizens to obtain arms. This, when you can still purchase an AK-47 in Kashmir for Rs 10,000. Gun owners say the new law will only encourage corruption. “A majority of crimes are committed using illegal arms. Criminals and anti-national elements do not bother to apply for arms licences,” says Abhijeet Singh of NAGRI. “Instead of cracking down on the underground arms market, the Home Ministry is going after soft targets-the licenced owners,” he adds. The last round has not been fired yet.CONCEALED ARMSThe Home Ministry’s executive orders are far stricter than the BillARMS ACT 1959ARMS (AMENDMENT) BILL 2010MORE POWER TO LICENSING AUTHORITYPolice verification optional. Section 13 (2A) says that the licensing authority can grant a licence if the police does not submit its verification on time.TIGHTENING OF POLICE VERIFICATIONSection 13 (2A) being deleted. Police verification mandatory.ARMS LICENCES FOR NON-PROHIBITED BORE (NPB) WEAPONS CAN BE GIVENProhibited Bores are used only by police and military. The Government shall give arms licenses for NPB under Section 13 for protection, sport or bonafide crop protection.EXECUTIVE ORDERS, MARCH 31, 2010ARMS LICENCES ONLY IN EXCEPTIONAL CASES LIKE THREATTO LIFEApplications only from persons who may face or perceive grave or imminent threat to their lives, for which the licensing authorities will obtain from the police an assessment of the threat faced by the personQUANTITY OF AMMUNITIONDifferent numbers of cartridges issued by various states.QUANTITY OF AMMUNITIONOnly 50 cartridges per year. Licencees have to prove where they used ammo.ALL-INDIA LICENCECurrently handled by local licensing authority and state home departmentsALL-INDIA LICENCEAIL only for sitting Union Ministers/MPs, military, paramilitary, officers of all-India services, sports persons. All others to be directly approved by the Union Home Ministry.advertisementlast_img read more

Bench keeps Alab PH fresh for next game

first_imgDon’t miss out on the latest news and information. “It’s a big win for us,” said Alapag, whose team is now at 3-0 (win-loss) with a game against the tough Singapore Slingers on Sunday.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next LATEST STORIES Palami gives Etheridge a pass: He has to secure Cardiff position, too SEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completion PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss MOST READ Hotel management clarifies SEAG footballers’ kikiam breakfast issue LOOK: Joyce Pring goes public with engagement to Juancho Triviño Is Luis Manzano planning to propose to Jessy Mendiola? SEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completion “I felt like tonight was a great early season test for us considering we started a bit behind from the other teams and Formosa’s been off and running from the start,” said Alapag.But the battle of two of the top teams in the current Asean Basketball League season eventually ended in an 86-72 rout as Renaldo Balkman fired 19 points and grabbed 20 rebounds, while PJ Ramos added 16 points for the Philippine club, which got significant contributions from its bench, particularly from Pao Javelona’s 11 points built around two treys.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine ‍football chief“I think our bench played great tonight,” Alapag said. “Their energy, you know, Pao (Javelona), Josh (Urbiztondo) came in and hit shots, Brandon (Rosser) and Lo (Domingo) were great grabbing rebounds just with their energy, and I think they bought our starters enough time to finish the game.”And it bought the team’s top guns added rest minutes as Alab tries to end the year with a victory. TS Kammuri to enter PAR possibly a day after SEA Games opening View comments Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting BREAKING: Corrections officer shot dead in front of Bilibid Photo from ABLThe last thing San Miguel Alab Pilipinas coach Jimmy Alapag wanted—especially with just a day’s break sandwiched between two tough outings—was to get dragged into a dogfight in the first of those two matches.But that was what Alab got for three and a half periods from the Formosa Dreamers Friday night at Santa Rosa Multi-Purpose Sports Complex in Santa Rosa, Laguna.ADVERTISEMENTlast_img read more