Bilateral efforts needed to stem illegal gun trade
That illegal weapons along with other contraband items come to Bangladesh exploiting the porous border with India is a known fact but a New Age report which states that small arms are entering Bangladesh in an increasing number is certainly alarming as the country is at a critical juncture with national elections only a few months away. We are informed that using three districts — Chapainawabganj, Shatkhira and Jessore all having borders with India — handguns that can easily be concealed are coming in to the country and are then sent across the nation, including the capital. The recovery of 59 such weapons in Dhaka by law enforcers between January and July testifies to the gravity of the situation. While gun-carrying street hoodlums have been caught by the police, their masterminds as well as the people who control the elaborate underworld gun-selling syndicate always remain behind the curtain. Of course, this is nothing new because the kingpins of all illegal operations in Bangladesh, from drugs to prostitution to gun-trading, are never arrested because they allegedly have the ‘right’ political connections.
We are not exaggerating at all when we say that unless the political nexus is exposed with unequivocal blessing from the top level of the state, the main orchestrator of crime will remain safe. The police, on the other side of the border, have also carried out campaigns to bust arms factories in Bihar but considering the enormity of the issue, sporadic actions will deliver little. What is needed is a state-level understanding, perhaps supported by a joint crackdown on illegal arms trade. If required, the BSF can team up with the BGB to tighten border control. Addressing the sinister urban dimension of the presence of illegal weapons, common citizens have valid reason to feel insecure as several reports in the past have specified the almost negligible amount of money required to purchase hand guns. Just to give more context to the matter, one only has to look at the recent killing of a college student in his house, in front of his mother, by gun-carrying miscreants. It is only practical that the police cannot be present at every crime scene to prevent it but with a countrywide combing operation, not sparing anyone with political linkage, can improve the situation.
While we recommend that the government order law enforcers to launch a drive before the elections, we realise that freeing the country of illegal weapons fully is an absurd expectation. However, focusing on major cities can considerably improve security. On a different note, it is indeed a paradox that while unregistered weapons continue to pour in before elections, licensed gun owners face the most harassment in handing over their legally held weapons. In the name of securing communities, licensed guns are locked in whereas the unlawful ones remain in circulation. Perhaps, the government should show the same amount of stringency in checking illegal firearms.
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