Political leaders hold 10,000
Staff Correspondent: Political leaders and activists including parliamentarians have more than 10,000 licensed firearms. Three-fourths of the license holders are associated with the ruling Awami League and its affiliates. BNP leaders are next in number. Awami League party representatives of the local government, leaders of the party at the metropolitan, district, upazila, thana levels, as well as some workers have also applied for political identity and received weapons licenses. Most of the licenses in the name of Awami League leaders and workers have been given in the last 14 years. BNP leaders and workers got firearms licenses when the party was in power.
On the other hand, according to the intelligence sources, presently there will at least 10 lakh illegal firearms in the country holding by ruling party activists, criminals and arms traders.
This information is known from the sources of Student-Labor Department of Special Branch (SB) of Bangladesh Police, which keeps account of legal firearms. SB keeps track of these weapons through the Fire Arms Management System (FAMS). Experts say even less important people have obtained firearms licenses as political considerations prevail. Due to his political identity, an intelligence investigation was also conducted before the application was approved. There are instances where some of the licensed persons go astray. Although there are occasional cases of violation of conditions, cases of cancellation of arms licenses are few and far between.
The photo of Awami League Member of Parliament of Chittagong-16 (Banshkhali) Constituency Mostafizur Rahman Chowdhury leading the procession with arms went viral on social media. Despite being a legal firearm, this public display in the presence of the police drew widespread criticism. However, Mostafizur Rahman Chowdhury said that he took the license of the weapon for use in danger. There is nothing wrong here.
As per section 32 (j) of the Rules on Issuance, Renewal and Use of Firearms Licence, 2016, special authority has been given to an eminent person approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs to obtain the licence. They will not be liable to pay the income tax prescribed for obtaining their license.
Experts say, leaders at different levels are taking this opportunity.
According to the sources of the concerned department of the special branch of the police, according to the calculations of the Fire Arms Management System till August 20, there are 50,310 firearms licenses and firearms in the country. There are 45,226 personal firearms. Of these, 10,215 are in the name of politicians. Awami League leaders and workers at different levels have 7,215 firearms. BNP leaders and workers have 2,587 and only 79 legal firearms in the name of people involved in politics of other parties. Among these weapons are 20,809 single-action guns, 4,683 pistols, 5,444 shotguns. The rest are double guns, revolvers and rifles. Dhaka Division has the highest number of firearms licenses, 14,683. The least in Mymensingh, 2,118.
A senior official of the City SB in a metropolis outside Dhaka told Daily Industry that if the identity and documents of Awami League leaders and workers are correct, the license is not withheld.
Analyzing the list of firearms licenses in some districts including Dhaka, Gazipur, Chittagong, Sylhet, Kushtia, Bogra, it can be seen that Awami League leaders at police station and ward level have also applied for firearms licenses. It can be seen from the list that Anwarul Kabir, the organizing secretary of Awami League of Hatirjheel-Ramana police station of the capital, got a license and bought a sophisticated Uzi pistol. This military grade weapon is prohibited for use by common people. The serial number of his weapon is WI-006980. He said, “I have taken the license for safety. I bought the Uzi pistol because I liked it.
Iqbal Hossain Titu, a former councilor of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) ward number 12 and currently an executive member of the Metropolitan North Awami League, got a license and bought weapons eight years ago. Sylhet District Awami League Advisory Council Member and Chairman of Biswanath Upazila Parishad Nunu Mia has also licensed arms for several years. He said that he took weapons for his own safety, but there was no need to use them.
Awami League activist Mahmudur Rahman Pintu of Santahar in Bogra also got a license and bought a shotgun. He said, bought the shotgun a long time ago but never fired it.
Chittagong City Corporation No. 14 (Lalkhan Bazar) Ward Councilor Abul Hasanat Md. Belal has a licensed pistol. He told that since he was physically abused in 2009, he carried a legal weapon for security.
Relief and Social Welfare Secretary of Sylhet Metropolitan Awami League and Councilor of Ward No. 9 of City Corporation. Mokhlesur Rahman Kamran has two legal arms. He claims that he has ensured his safety with these two weapons.
Tangail District Awami League Organizing Secretary Saifuzzaman Sohel, Faridpur City Volunteer League President Salim Hasan, Netrakona Purbadhala Upazila Chairman and Jubo League leader Zahidur Islam Sujan have bought modern pistols after receiving the license. Sujan said, ‘I am involved with politics. I have to keep a pistol with me, so I took it.
Former Home Secretary Kamal Uddin does not support the issue of getting firearms licenses for politicians at the ward-station level. He told today’s newspaper that there are many who are not eligible to get a license. But the license was taken by political influence or someone. Such people are dangerous. It is not that some of those who have got the license will not go astray. There are no such precedents.
Violation of conditions
According to section 25 (a) of the Firearms License Grant, Renewal and Use Rules, 2016, a person may carry or use his licensed firearm for self-defense. However, weapons may not be displayed in a manner likely to cause fear/anxiety to others. In this case the license will be revoked due to violation of rules. However, the number of license cancellations is few and far between, even though there are occasional cases of public display of weapons.
There is an allegation against Atahar Ali, joint general secretary of Mirpur Upazila Awami League of Kushtia, that he regularly terrorizes the people and opponents of the area with legal weapons. This month itself, several pictures and videos of threats with weapons, chasing opponents and displaying weapons on the streets in broad daylight went viral on social media. The victims also complained to the police. Atahar Ali claimed that he repeatedly displayed his pistol to protect his life and arms.
However, after the investigation, the Mirpur Thana-Police have placed the responsibility on both parties.
Last July, the vice-president of Faridpur District Farmers League and the former health affairs member of the central Awami League sub-committee Dr. Golam Kabir was accused of threatening a tenant by displaying a firearm. However, Faridpur district police did not say anything about it.
When asked to know, Additional Superintendent of Police (Mass and Public Relations) Enamul Haque Sagar said, “There is no opportunity to fool around with legal weapons.” When the complaint comes, the concerned police investigate and recommends the concerned department to take action against the license.
Sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs say that 27 firearms licenses have been permanently canceled across the country due to use of legal weapons and violation of regulations.
Head of Criminology and Police Science Department of Maulana Bhasani University of Science and Technology. Muhammad Umar Farooq told Daily Industry that even less important people got firearms licenses because political considerations prevailed. Those who do real politics, no one but a select few should need arms. Legal weapons are displayed unnecessarily by some, while others are used to intimidate opponents.
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