Why do India's MPs love guns?

India parliament India's MPs are given protection - why do so many need guns?

Why do so many Indian parliamentarians need guns?

And why are guns being sold to MPs who have criminal cases pending against them?

Nobody quite knows. But the government's reply to a freedom of information request on gun ownership among MPs has revealed some startling facts:

  • 756 guns were sold to MPs and VIPs - usually politicians - in India between 1987 and 2012.
  • 82 MPs purchased guns being sold off by the state between 2001 and 2012.
  • 18 of these 82 MPs have criminal cases pending against them. They include charges of murder, attempt to murder and kidnapping.
  • One of these MPs - Atiq Ahmed from Uttar Pradesh - has 44 criminal cases pending against him.

These mostly imported guns were seized by customs and then sold to MPs - at well below the market price until a few years ago.

Curiously, only MPs can buy these confiscated weapons. Ordinary citizens, according to the watchdog Association for Democratic Reforms, are not eligible even if they have firearms licences.

In a new report, the watchdog raises some pointed questions.

Why should guns be sold only to MPs when many of them already enjoy police protection at state expense?

Why are guns being sold to MPs who have "serious criminal charges" pending against them?

Why are ordinary citizens not eligible to buy these guns?

Does the government track the possession of these guns to check if they have been sold off on the black market?

The government and the MPs have no answers yet.

Right to information activist Ambrish Pandey, who unearthed the information, believes the sale of guns to MPs is a result of an "ad hoc, discretionary and opaque policy of allotment".

India's democracy is already facing a serious challenge from criminalisation of politics.

Nearly a third of MPs - 158 out of 543, to be precise - in the lower house face criminal charges in more than 500 cases.

Seventy-four of them face very serious charges, such as murder and abduction.

And now we find that the government has freely sold guns to many of them. What is happening?

Soutik Biswas Article written by Soutik Biswas Soutik Biswas Delhi correspondent

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  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Only not so intelligent MPs or other powerful politicians need to buy guns while state police/army higher official would love to do the job using their official weapon with slightest indication of their political master. I'll be surprised if powerful politicians will waste money to buy these guns! There will be no shortage of guns if they want 1- just like Sonia-Rahul don't have any personal car!

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    The same MPs will try their best to stop anyone else (except their loyal servants & mafias) to get access to guns, as they very well know that these weapons ultimately will be used against them. Increasing frustration, fast spread of extremist violence (Naxal & otherwise) & increasing tendency of common people to take laws in their own hands are other indications of India's future.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Indian MPs know the reality of India & that's why they must have guns. It's totally ridiculous to protect many such criminals as MPs from gang rivalry using state money and govt officials- police or otherwise. Days probably are not far away when every sensible people will like to have at least one gun. Times of India (3rd Aug, 2012) news- "Delhi women gun for arms licences". Got an idea?

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    This makes sense...afterall our MPs work in the parliment and guns provide a sense of security in the presence of other criminals

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    This is a ridiculous statistic, especially as some of them like Mr Ahmed have cases for attempted murder pending against them. The politicians in India are corrupt, There is a need for a 'clean and upstanding party' to emerge within Indian politics that puts the interests of the people and country first. The BJP needs to elect a new, young and energetic leader with a positive vision for India.


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