Govt has issued 220,626 firearm licences

SRINAGAR: More than 220,000 firearms licences have been issued to civilians, soldiers and other persons in the past six years, the government told the assembly without disclosing the identity of the licencees for “security reasons”.
Of the 220,626 gun licences, 116,037 have been issued in Jammu division, with Kishtwar district topping the list at 54,502 licences followed by Udhampur at 21,450 and Rajouri and Doda district at more than 15,000 each.
This was disclosed during a reply by the Home department to a question raised by Ajay Nanda, who had sought details of such licences besides calling for a hassle-free process for issuing the licences.
In Kashmir division, Srinagar district tops the list with 51,118 licences followed by Kulgam at 22,515 and Shopian 15,263.
The least number of licenses have been provided to applicants in Bandipora, which has been issued only 19, followed by Budgam that issued 61 licences.
The reply however mentioned that “In view of the security considerations, it may not be feasible to disclose the names of licensees”.
The licenses are provided non-prohibited bore weapons, mostly single- and double -barrel rifles, pistols and revolvers.
The government had refused to reply to an RTI filed by this paper more than a year ago, seeking details of troops, policemen and politicians who have been issued arms licenses in Srinagar, citing Section 8 of the RTI Act, which exempts it from disclosing information on some vital issues concerning national security.
However, Kashmir Reader learnt that the liberal policy of issuances of gun licences has been effectively capitalized by individuals from police, paramilitary forces and the army.
Many arms licence holders are aiming at getting themselves registered for a Unique Identification Number (UIN) that will maintain their complete data on the National Database of Arms License (NDAL). This has been prompted by government of India’s home ministry directive that licence holders should complete the process by October, failing which their licences will become invalid.