(G.N.S) Dt. 28
Uttar Pradesh Police’s special task force (STF) claimed to have busted an international organised arms racket on Tuesday with the arrest of six persons, including former Samajwadi PMLA from Chharra in Aligarh Thakur Rakesh Singh and seized five high-value imported weapons from them.
According to STF officials, they first swooped down on the former MLA who had illegally purchased a 9mm Brazilian Taurus pistol from the gang and arrested the five men from Chinhat area in Lucknow after getting valuable leads from him. They have been identified as Nagendra Pratap Singh from Aligarh, Ishan Chaudhary, Mohd Anees and Suboor Anwar, all residents of Sambhal, and Waseem Ahmad, a resident of Delhi.
Sophisticated imported weapons seized from them include a machine pistol – Škorpion vz. 61 (Czech Republic); 9 mm Austrian Glock pistol, 9 mm Luger made in Czech Republic, and a US-made Beretta 3032 Tomcat.
Confirming the gang’s links to Myanmar, Abhishek Singh, senior superintendent of police, STF, said, “We share a porous border with Myanmar in the north-east where these foreign-made arms were most likely smuggled from. A team was sent to Aizawl earlier though no arrests were made. We are in the process of getting to the bottom of this.” Singh said they were yet to get in touch with Myanmar authorities.
Explaining the modus operandi, an STF sleuth claimed that carriers in the gang would undertake trips to transport arms from Aizawl in Mizoram to Sambhal in west UP from where the gang was operating. “In order to avoid attention and dupe surveillance, the carrier would often resort to break-journeys and decide routes and mode of commuting at the eleventh hour,” he said. The gang would then look for prospective, “moneyed buyers” in different districts of the state for the next round of trade as they dealt mostly in very expensive arms.
Police said that all the suspects, except Waseem (28) and Suboor (32), are well educated. Nagendra Pratap Singh (38) is a postgraduate from AMU while Ishan (27) is a graduate from Meerut’s Chaudhary Charan Singh University. Mohd Anees (29) is a graduate in economics and former MLA Rakesh Singh is a graduate in electrical engineering.
Additional SP (STF) Rajeev Narain Mishra said investigations had revealed that buyers of these illegal weapons were persons of “questionable” background and they used to pay either in cash or exchange stolen vehicles for them. According to officials, STF sleuths raided the former MLA’s residence at 12.30 on Monday night after a tip-off that he was one the customers of the smugglers. The raid led to the recovery of the illegally bought 9 mm Taurus pistol and 16 live cartridges. He has been booked under the Arms Act and remanded to 14 days in police custody.
Talking to media, IG (STF) Amitabh Yash said that the raid was conducted at the former MLA’s residence based on a “conclusive lead” given by an informer. The suspect, Nagendra Pratap Singh, had told investigators that he had sold a smuggled weapon to the former legislator in Aligarh.
According to STF officials, the pistol was sold to the MLA for 4.5 lakh, while its actual price is around Rs 22 lakh. Aligarh police added that five cases had earlier been registered against the former MLA under various sections of IPC, including attempt to murder, assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of duty, robbery with attempt to cause death or grievous hurt and criminal intimidation at various police stations of the district.
Singh was also accused of threatening a builder, beating up an inspector in Police Lines and vandalising a government property in the past, besides being accused of intimidating a prominent doctor in the city.
As his supporters protested the arrest, Rakesh Singh later said he was “framed” in a conspiracy to tarnish his image ahead of Lok Sabha elections. He said, “We accept this challenge and we will respond in a befitting manner in the elections.” He claimed that the pistol seized from him did not belong to him.
(G.N.S) Dt. 28