Indian-made air guns are being converted into .22 calibre single-shot weapons in Bangladesh ahead of the polls, security agencies in India believe. At least two dozen air guns have been seized over the last 10 days while being smuggled across the International Border into Bangladesh. Many more may have crossed the porous border, officials suspect.
On Friday evening, 12 air guns were seized by Border Security Force (BSF) personnel near the Matiyari Border Outpost in Nadia. Three persons carrying the guns dropped the lot along with 470 attachment washers and fled when the troops of the 113Bn gave chase. The guns and washers were handed over to the Krishnaganj police station. On December 6, Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel seized a dozen air guns and 50 springs at the Gede station and nabbed three smugglers, including a Bangladeshi national. The guns, springs and smugglers have been handed over to the Ranaghat police station.
“Smuggling of air guns may seem a minor crime till one realizes that these weapons can be converted into .22 calibre guns with minor modifications. Even the police would not suspect if people move around with an air guns converted into a .22 calibre weapons. In the past, such weapons have been used during mob violence and riots in India, Bangladesh and African countries. The sudden spurt in the smuggling of air guns before the elections point to the fact that they are going to be misused. Indian-made air guns have also been converted and used during riots in Africa,” a BSF source said.
What makes the Indian-made air guns so popular are their price. These guns come at about Rs 2,000 apiece and .22 Long Rifle (LR) rounds are also easily available. These rounds can be lethal at close range. Apart from the air guns, the BSF in 2018 has seized 22 country-made pistols, 61 rounds of ammunition and 18 magazines that were being smuggled into Bangladesh.
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