India

Punjab: India state launches 'gun for plants' scheme

A man poses with plant saplings before applying for a gun license Image copyright Courtesy: Chander Gaind
Image caption Applicants for gun licenses must plant at least 10 saplings and submit 'selfies' as proof

Guns and plant saplings are an odd combination - but in India's northern Punjab state, the two are now linked.

For a month now, applicants in the state's Ferozepur district have had to plant at least 10 saplings before applying for gun licences.

"Punjabis are mad about cars, weapons and mobiles. Let them be mad about plantations too," District Commissioner Chander Gaind told the BBC.

Mr Gaind said applicants would have to submit selfies with the saplings.

"With roads being widened at a [fast] rate, trees are being cut in very large numbers, so this was the need of the hour," he added.

With 360,000 licensed gun holders, Punjab has the third largest number of licenses in India, government data shows.

But a selfie with a sapling does not guarantee one of the much sought after licences. It merely means the application will be "considered" for processing.

The order was issued on 5 June to coincide with world environment day, but has only now picked up traction in local media as more people have started complying.

Mr Gaind says they have received at least 100 applications - along with selfies - since the order was passed.

But simply planting saplings and taking selfies with them is not enough - applicants also have to submit follow-up selfies a month later, proving that they are nurturing the plants.

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Media captionNew Delhi Police say numbers of seized illegal firearms are on rise signalling growing gun culture in India

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