The increasing illegal arrival of small firearms reportedly from India to Bangladesh is causing a new headache for the country's law enforcement agencies, thanks to a well-organised gang of smugglers.
The gunrunners have allegedly established an efficient network that spreads across the Indian states of Bihar, West Bangladesh and several Bangladesh districts, especially along the border. Police in both countries are often forced to play a hide-and-seek game with the smugglers.
Originating mainly from Bihar, the firearms, most of them 7.65MM pistols, are sold at a high price again through a network to the criminals in Bangladesh, investigators have found.
They say at least nine gunrunners of Jashore district have been involved in distributing illegal firearms in various districts, including Dhaka, Khulna and Bagerhat. The firearms are smuggled into Bangladesh mainly through Jashore frontier.
Several Indian arms smugglers' syndicate, who are locally known as 'Mohajon', have been involved in this risky but lucrative clandestine business using Bangladeshi labourers as carriers. The transactions of money are done through 'hundi 'and mobile banking apps.
Detectives of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) have got the information about the nine Jashore-based Bangladeshi gunrunners and their Indian partners while investigating a recent case of illegal arms consignment.
The detectives have found out that the firearms sneaked through Benapole border are being carried from as far as Bihar.
Based on secret information, three specialized teams of DB (Gulshan Division) arrested five Bangladeshi gunrunners from 'Borobazar ' of Mirpur embankment under Darus Salam police station on September 1.
They also recovered eight foreign made pistols, eight rounds of bullet, eight blank magazines, five mobile phone sets and a private car from their possessions.
The arrested gunrunners were identified as Md Akul Hossain, 37, Md Abdul Azim, 28, Md Ilias Hossain, Md Milon Hossain, and Md Fazlur Rahman, 35. All are inhabitants of Benapole and Sharsha upazilas in Jashore district.
During interrogation, the arrestees revealed that several 'Mohajans' on the Indian side have been in this business of illegal arms for long.
"There are several arms trading syndicates active on the Indian frontier. Among them, Mehedi Mohajon, Dipangkar Mohajan and Goutom Mohajan are mentionable," Deputy Commissioner (DB-Gulshan) of the DMP Moshiur Rahman says quoting the arrested men.
The gunrunners can easily communicate with each other through mobile phone using both Bangladeshi and Indian networks as they stay very close to the frontiers.
Replying to a question, DC Moshiur says Akul Hossain, one of the arrestees, has revealed that he has sold more than 200 firearms since 2014. Most of those firearms are 7.65mm pistols.
Each firearm, like 7.65 mm pistol with a 7-inch barrel, usually sells at Tk 70-80 thousand in Bangladesh, almost double the buying price.
According to the detectives Akul Hossain, reportedly the leader of the ring on Bangladesh side, has influential political links. He is known to be involved in various crimes in the area. But the common people are too afraid to speak against him.
DC Moshiur says the smuggled arms are bought to the border by the well-groomed men on the Indian side. These are then wrapped well in polythene and kept hidden under earth or mud in Bangladesh territory from where labourers collect these under cover of darkness before handing the contraband items over to the smugglers. The labours are reportedly paid between Tk2000 and 3000.
Then Akul usually distribute the smuggled firearms to different areas of the country through his distributors including Fantu Chaklader, Osman, Hazi Sumon, Deen Islam, Rashed, Tak Milon, Julfikar, Tak Tutul and Jahangir member. All are inhabitants of Jashore district, said the investigators.
In the next part of the journey, the firearms are kept hidden in fruit or vegetable-laden vehicles or other transports before reaching their destinations: end-user criminals.
These illegal arms are widely used by miscreants in committing crimes like murder, injury, robbery, mugging, tendering and land grabbing, according to the investigators.
The armed miscreants are sometimes hired by some politically connected people in their fight against rivals to establish supremacy, according to the investigation.