RANCHI: Cheap and easily available foreign weapons have become the best buy for Maoists and other rebel groups operating in Jharkhand. Police investigations in the recent seizure of foreign-made weapons — including the American M16 rifles and Pakistani cartridges — have revealed that the arms and ammunition are coming to the state through dealers in Bihar. All the weapons and ammunition recovered from Maoists in Palamu, Hazaribagh and Simdega reached here via Bihar, the police said. Jharkhand police spokesman IG S N Pradhan said these weapons were once used by militants active in northeastern states, and with the violence now receding, the insurgents do not want to keep these weapons with them anymore. The militants are only keeping the most advanced weapons as they have no use of these arms anymore.
Pradhan said that according to information with the police, the rebels are buying these M16 rifles for around Rs 1.5 to 2 lakh per piece. Against this, an AK47 costs around Rs 4 to 5 lakh. “The best places for them to dispose these weapons are Maoist-hit states like Jharkhand, Bihar and Chattisgarh, where the rebels are under tremendous pressure to get more weapons as security forces are regularly seizing their arms. When they got an option to buy these foreign arms and ammunition, they grabbed the opportunity,” said Pradhan. Another reason which has prompted the rebels to buy foreign weapons is the increasing alertness of securitymen involved in anti-Maoist operations.
The rebels, who earlier replenished their armoury by snatching and looting from policemen, are not getting any such opportunities anymore. “In 2012, all India snatching or loot of weapons was just 54. This is an all-time low since 2001. If they have to sustain their struggle, they have to purchase weapons made available to them,” said a police officer. Talking about the quality of these weapons, he said they are as good as the Indian Insas rifle. “It is inferior to AK47, but equal to Insas. When they are easily getting such high-quality weapons at a cheaper rate, they tend to compromise,” the officer added.