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India Punjab Women Lead The Way In Arming Themselves

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Punjab women lead the way in arming themselves

Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service


Amrik Kaur of Tarn Taran has three weapons in her name.
- Tribune photo

Chandigarh, September 1
Septuagenarian Amrik Kaur of Amarkot, a recipient of the Shaurya Chakra, a top civilian gallantry award, wants arms licences for both her daughters-in-law to carry forward the family tradition of keeping its women armed.

Amrik Kaur — once known as the “lioness of the border areas” — used to engage militants in night-long encounters during the peak of militancy in Punjab. Though she lost her husband Shahbeg Singh and domestic help Mukhtyar Singh in one of such encounters, she refused to give up her fight against anti-national and anti-social elements. In recognition of her brave fight against terrorism, she was awarded the Shaurya Chakra in 1995.

“I am passing through the most difficult and painful phase of my life right now. Besides threats from those whom I fought during militancy, I lost both my sons in recent years. But this has not diminished my resolve to continue my fight. The threats never ceased; so I am always prepared to defend my family and myself,” she says to reiterate her claim for issuance of arms licences to both her daughters-in-law. Besides three personal weapons in her name, Amrik Kaur has been provided two security guards by the Punjab Police. Amrik Kaur has been a torch-bearer of those Punjabi women who refuse to be overawed by droves of gun-wielding militants, dacoits, robbers or spoiled brats of big-wigs. Investigations reveal that the number of women seeking arms licences has seen a phenomenal rise. There are more women in rural, remote and border areas who not only have arms licences, but also got firearms endorsed on them — generally small personal weapons such as pistols and revolvers — to put the state ahead of others.

Among those recently granted arms licences is the widow of a young Jalandhar businessman and wives of at least five police officers in Ludhiana. Those connected with political families and major business families are also high on the list of arms licencees.

While in urban areas the trend of possessing arms is restricted to young educated entrepreneurs, professionals such as doctors, engineers and businesswomen, especially jewellers and sportswomen, the group in rural areas includes land owners and others from families where keeping firearms is a tradition.

Many women have more than one weapon to their name. In Ludhiana, for instance, the wife of a businessman has three weapons. There are at least three women in Jalandhar city who have two weapons each. Besides a .32 bore revolver or pistol, the weapon of choice is the 12 bore double barrel gun.

Information obtained under the Right to Information Act reveals that there are 31,300 women in Punjab with arms licences and almost all of them have procured weapons. Cases of women using a firearm in self-defence or retaliation are hardly reported.

Recalls Lok Nath Angara, Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Jalandhar Range, “A woman named Nindro had opened fire in defence of a police party after militants fired at me. Other than these two cases, I do not remember any other incident in which women used their weapons.”

The most recent case of women opening fire in public was reported from Ludhiana’s posh Sarabha Nagar locality when a group of young women, after a spat with young men, returned in a SUV and fired in the air to send a message that they would not be booed.

“Licenced weapons are rarely used in crimes. In fact, it is an asset in case the licence is given to a rightful person. It is enshrined in police rules and those with licenced weapons are at times called upon to assist the state in maintenance of law and order, besides being given the task of securing vital security installations and performing ‘theekri pehra’ during emergencies,” adds Lok Nath Angra.

“Keeping a weapon for self defence at home is more in consonance with the Punjabi feudal tradition. Interestingly, 90% of these weapons are seldom put to use. Their use is limited to firing in the air on joyous occasions,” says MF Farooqui, DIG, Ludhiana Range.

“I recently granted an arms licence to a young widow to facilitate the transfer of her deceased husband’s double barrel gun to her,” says Surjit Singh Grewal, Senior Superintendent of Police, Moga.

Ishwar Singh, Commissioner of Police, Ludhiana, says nothing unusual has come to his notice while granting arms licences to women.

“Of the 1,601 new licences granted in Ludhiana since introduction of the commissionerate system, only 29 have gone to women,” he says, holding that only a small percentage of self-employed or entrepreneur women are among the successful applicants. Otherwise, these licences have generally been passed down as family heirlooms.

His views are corroborated by Navjot Mahal, ADCP of Jalandhar, who says only 16 women have been issued fresh arms licences since introduction of the Commissionerate System of policing in the city.

Yurinder Singh Hyer, SSP, Jalandhar (Rural), says requests for arms licences from women are rare.

The ban imposed by the Union Government on import of small and personal weapons and the long wait for getting revolvers and pistols manufactured by ordnance factories in the country have been no deterrent for those getting new licences.

Women from affluent families still prefer imported weapons, says an arms dealer of Ludhiana, holding that “though no new weapon has been allowed to be imported since 1984, some earlier imported weapons were now being disposed off.

(With inputs from Varinder Singh and Mohit Khanna)

Arms & the woman

- Punjab has issued 31,300 arms licences to women
- The favourites: .32 bore revolver and pistol and 12 bore double barrel gun..

source: http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120902/main2.htm




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