Withdraw guns from public: Home MinistryThe Ministry of Home Affairs on Monday issued directives to the District Administration Offices to collect weapons issued to the general public in view of the upcoming elections.
The Ministry of Home Affairs on Monday issued directives to the District Administration Offices to collect weapons issued to the general public in view of the upcoming elections.
In a circular, the ministry asked the 75 DAOs to gather the weapons and store them safely until the elections are over. The ministry has also directed its subordinate bodies to run campaigns to seize illegal weapons.
The Home Ministry wrote to the DAOs following an order from the Election Commission to start withdrawing licensed guns from the general public for the security of the May 14 local elections.
“We don’t want the weapons to be misused during the election,” said Balkrishna Panthi, spokesperson for the ministry. “We have written to our offices across the country to hold the weapons until the election gets over.”
The law requires the public to temporarily submit their arms to the concerned DAO for the specified period. The Arms and Ammunition Act-1962 states that all the licensed weapons must be surrendered temporarily before political parties start campaigns for the elections. Chief District Officers inside the Kathmandu Valley said they are waiting for the order. Kathmandu CDO Him Nath Dawadi said only 1,015 arms have been renewed so far from among the 10,000 that were issued.
“We will soon write to the concerned people and ask the local police to withdraw the weapons,” said Dawadi.
Bhaktapur CDO Drona Pokhrel said among the 43 weapons issued by the DAO only 31 have been renewed while the others are in the process of renewal.
Despite the directives, previous experiences show very few people come forward to deposit weapons.
Officials at the Kathmandu DAO said only around 1,000 of the 7,500 renewed weapons were submitted during the 2013 elections.
According to the ministry, there are over 34,000 licensed weapons across the country. The Kathmandu DAO estimates that there are over 11,000 registered weapons in the district, among which 7,500 are renewed annually.
The government grants permission to individuals to keep a firearm after s/he applies for the same at the DAO with considerable reasons. The DAO calls a meeting of the District Security Committee to recommend that the ministry issue the licence. After verification, the ministry then recommends that the Department of Commerce allow the import of the licensed weapon.
Bishnu Raj Upreti, a conflict expert, said the availability of arms and political patronage will create fear in the public. “When people are not sure of their security, they do not show up at the voting booths,” said Upreti, adding that a strict monitoring of the arms is essential.