Hyderabad: Mystery surrounds arms cache seizure
HYDERABAD: Customs officials on Wednesday claimed to have seized a big cache of arms and ammunition at the Hyderabad railway station in a raid carried out on Monday. However, the disclosure of the seizure after a delay of two days coupled with conflicting accounts of the origin, number/quantity and status of the weapons turned the whole affair a mystery. According to custom officials, they seized 367 guns, 59,880 bullets, 107 empty magazines of Italian make, two lasers and two empty drum magazines. They said no one was arrested but a case would be registered under the Customs Act, 1969.
The officials stated that some of the seized guns — including 19 automatic shotguns of 12 bore, eight automatic pistols of 30 bore, 26 semi–automatic shotgun and 314 9mm pistols of 30 bore — carried marks like ‘Made in Turkey’. Customs collector Asif Marghoob Siddiqui giving details of the raid told journalists that the cache was seized at about 3pm on Monday at the Hyderabad railway station after it was smuggled into the city.
As per the documents of the consignment, the arms and were consigned by M/s Najam& Sons, manufacturers of arms and ammunition, Kohat Road, Peshawar and booked for M/s Saifuddin& Sons, Hyderabad.
The arms were seized by Momin Shah of the special anti–smuggling squad on the ground that the weapons were of prohibited bore.
M/s Saifuddin and Sons is located just outside the police headquarters in the city and, according to a source, the actual shop-owner is currently in Dubai and before leaving the country he had transferred/handed over his licence to Ahmed Nawaz Pathan, who is the tenant of the outlet.
When this correspondent visited the shop on Wednesday, it was closed. When the tenant’s cellphone number was tried, some other person attended the call and spoke in Pushto accent. “I am aware of all relevant facts of the case and there is nothing wrong but I cannot tell you my name right now. You can ask me any question,” he said, and added that customs officials had opened the arms consignment in the absence of a magistrate.
He said that the weapons were booked in Peshawar under a licence of the shop-owner. “Peshawar police also travelled along with the consignment,” he said, and claimed that all legal requirements of the deal were fully met.
When he was informed about the number of seized shotguns as declared by customs officials’, he disputed the claim and said: “there were 400 shotguns in the consignment”.
According to another arms shop owner, usually all weapons carried the marks like ‘Made in Turkey’, ‘Made in China’ etc but, in fact, the arms manufacturers in Peshawar would print such things on their products as a normal practice… I do have such weapons at my shop, too”, he said.
It was learnt that the number of arms and ammunition seized by the Customs officials was larger than it was declared. The officials also did not explain as to why the disclosure of the seizure was delayed for two days.