Three shooting incidents on one single day last week, questions our very belief in personal safety that Pune is known for…
Two people barged into the house of Ekta Bhati in Chandan Nagar, shot her fatally and fled, four people shot at employees of a jeweller in Kondhwa injuring one and a a police officer of the crime branch was shot at the thick populated Pune Railway Station. All on one single day right here in our city!
And there’s more! Just last month, an advocate was shot at by his clients over a financial dispute. Sporadic cases of shooting over personal conflicts, one of which was triggered off over an argument at a parking space, have been reported over the past years.
There was a time when shootings were confined to gang wars that Pune had become notorious for in the 1990s.
First, acting as subsidiaries to the Mumbai underworld gangs and later, Pune’s own gangs Killings on public roads with sharp weapons and at times, with guns were a street side affair
Then there were freak cases like the unusual incident of firing in the pristine Fergusson College premises in the mid 90s. Janavi, a 20-year-old student, was shot dead by her boyfriend and college mate, Prasanna Pandit, who went onto shot himself. This had created ripples in the city.
Express Citizens’ Forum had organized an intense public debate and Fergusson College authorities formed Pune’s first ever student counseling group called `Bridging the gap’ with Prachi Javadekar as its head.
Almost all experts stated that change of social values and parental upbringing that revolved around materialism and self-centredness is giving rise to intolerant youth with unstable minds. Three decades later, the story of the attitude of the present generation remains the same, except that there is a growing consciousness of social change in the hearts of many Millennials.
One thing is certain- the numbers of guns (majority being country guns which are illegally bought and sold) have increased over the years.
This is reflected in a news item in 2015 in a city daily which stated that the Pune Police seized 113 firearms and out of the 140 people that they arrested, 70% of them were youngsters between 18 to 25 years of age.
Senior inspector Vijaysinh Gaikwad, who is in-charge of the anti-organised crime cell, stated a majority of those arrested in cases of illegal possession of firearms are youth. We have also seen a trend that most of them procure arms at low prices from states like Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, and sell them at higher prices here. All these youth are in some way linked to local criminal groups who have rivalries with each other over supremacy in their areas. Flexing firearms has unfortunately become a sign of prestige.”
The story is no different now…
Prasannakumar Keskar, senior crime journalist states that, ‘now, the nature of gang wars in Pune seems to have changed. While the shootouts in the 90s were fallout of attempts by Mumbai gangs to establish supremacy, now the gangland murders are caused more due to local rivalry.
The local Mulshi gangs, drawing the general term from that catchment area of the members, continue to be active as petty local criminal gangs and brandish their country guns more to terrorise land owners and threaten businessmen for extortion than to kill.
The increasing availability of mostly illegal country guns can be attributed to increased inter state communication and migration. Such guns are mostly being used by unorganized criminals operating as lone wolves to settle personal rivalries or take revenge in love affair issues.’’
Owning country guns that cost between Rs.50,000 and Rs.80,000 has become a game of demonstrating supremacy and also a source of quick money for the unemployed youth who get paid to kill someone on behalf of someone (supari killing). Besides, now in Pune, even road rage or an argument with someone in public could lead to someone pulling out his gun at you.
And that’s unnerving for a city, traditionally known for its culture, peace and intellectualism.
There are strict laws for procuring a gun license (majority remains the illegal firearms) and is granted on threat perception of the applicant.
USA is facing the horrendous fallout of giving Americans their constitutional right in owning guns. Here in Pune though, the country guns which are sold without license is a cause of great concern.
The Pune Police have consistently being active on this front to nab the accused indulging in this trade. However it is important they create greater public awareness in order for citizens to stay alert on this issue.
#All views expressed in this column are the authors and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to the same.
That's Vinita Deshmukh, Senior journalist and RTI activist who believes in journalism that reflects the views and needs of the common man.
Get Real And Stay Relevant says Vinita,