Amid concern over recent shooting incidents in Delhi, the city police chief, Amulya Patnaik, has said illegal firearm factories have moved closer to the city making it easier for criminals to procure guns.
He said that the seizure of firearms by Delhi Police doubled in the last two years.
Citing data, Patnaik said his force seized 947 firearms in 2016 which rose by 48.89 per cent to 1,410 in 2017. As many as 1,950 firearms were seized in 2018.
Till May 31 this year, the police have seized 1,169 firearms compared to 842 and 517 firearms in 2018 and 2017 respectively during the same time.
"Firearms are being brought to Delhi from outside and have fallen into the wrong hands. Criminals are having relatively easier access to firearms by going across to neighbouring states and procuring them. So that has been an area of concern," the Police Commissioner told PTI.
Some of the recent incidents this year like the Dwarka Mor shooting where gun-wielding youths fired indiscriminately on a busy road have rattled the city. The intervening night of Thursday and Friday saw four incidents in which five people were shot dead.
These killings prompted Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to urge Delhi LG Anil Baijal and the home ministry to look into the law and order situation in the national capital.
However, the use of firearms in crimes has seen a decline. From 951 cases in 2016, the number has gone down to 851 in 2017 and 812 in 2018, Patnaik said. Till May 31, 383 cases were recorded in 2017 in which firearms were used as opposed to 354 in 2018 and 334 this year.
Patnaik said the challenge for the force lies in the fact that the illegal factories have shifted to nearby areas and are no longer confined to traditional areas in Madhya Pradesh or Bihar.
"These factories have shifted to some of the nearby areas. Earlier, firearms used to be procured from a distance like Madhya Pradesh. Now the factories have shifted to Bulandshahr, Meerut, Bareilly -- so the accessibility has become that much easier and it is a challenge for us and we are working on it," he added.
Citing the reasons for the factories shifting from their traditional locations, he said there is constant pressure in the traditionally identified places forcing the manufacturers to shift base to different areas.
"If it is known that you are operating from one particular area, the police from all states will focus on that area. Spreading and diversifying to different places so that they don't get caught is the strategy they have adopted," he said.
Last year in October, the police had busted an illegal arms factory running in Uttar Pradesh's Meerut city. A few months later in December, the police had busted an arms factory running from northeast Delhi's Karawal Nagar and arrested two men.