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Amit Rathee asked: Considering the fact that arms of foreign origin were used in recent Naxal attacks, what is the current state of arms trafficking in India? What specific measures are being taken in this regard?

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  • Vivek Chadha replies: The terrorist and insurgent groups operating in India get arms and ammunition essentially from two sources. In the first instance, weapons are moved from across the border. These can be pushed in as a result of state sponsorship, as seen in the case of Pakistan in J&K. It could also be smuggled along with drugs and fake currency as composite loads, as is common along the borders of Punjab and Rajasthan. Finally, it is trafficked from countries like Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nepal for profit. This is a major source of weapons for insurgent groups in the Northeast. Most of these weapons are of Chinese origin and reach the clandestine Southeast Asian arms markets. These are then bid for and bought with the aim of trafficking. The Naxals can potentially procure these weapons from groups in the Northeast, given their comfortable financial position.

    The second source is indigenous. It needs to be reinforced that most weapons used by the Naxals are of Indian origin and are snatched and looted from the police and central police organisations. Given the large scale of looting that has been in progress, there has not been a very critical need for weapons from outside for the Naxals.

    One of the steps initiated for reducing arms trafficking is the establishment of a border fence, which has brought down incidents of smuggling. The deployment of border forces has also been augmented and made more dynamic to improve anti-smuggling measures. The positioning of electronic surveillance devices has helped in keeping an eye on the borders. Improvement in scanning of people and vehicles has also taken place, which has helped reduce trafficking. However, having said this, there is a lot more that needs to be done to stop trafficking of arms, especially in areas which have difficult ground conditions or where borders are porous, as in the case of Nepal.