The Home Ministry has not yet taken any decision about ‘military-grade semi-automatic Uzi pistols’ imported and sold in the country in the name of riffle, creating a fear that the firearms may reach the hands of militants.
Six authorised arms dealers imported about 111 ‘Uzi pistols’ over the last five years since 2015. Of them, 53 have already been sold to civilians.Both sellers and buyers declared the weapons as rifles on papers as the import of semi-automatic or automatic weapons for personal use is totally banned in the country.
The matter of Uzi pistols came to the fore after detectives arrested alleged drug dealer Minal Sharif with such a firearm from the capital on August 20 last year.
After an investigation last year, the Police Headquarters recommended that the Home Ministry seize all the imported and sold ‘Uzi pistols’ and take action against the importers and holders, but nothing has yet been done in this regard.
Contacted, Additional Home Secretary Md Jahangir Alam told the Daily Sun that the ministry is working with the issue. “Truly, the matter is complex. The work on the issue is on,” he said.
After the Police Headquarters’ recommendations, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan directed the arms dealers not to sell the weapons before any decision was taken in this regard.
Sources said the sale of the firearms is going on as the ministry did not issue any written directive.The firearms are in a huge demand as a magazine of an Uzi pistol can hold 20 bullets whereas a service pistol used by law enforcers can hold only 15, said the sources. Each Uzi pistol sells at Tk 4-4.5 lakh.
The sources said the firearms may be a threat to the national security in future if these reach the hands of militants.
In November last year, the Home Ministry formed a committee to confirm whether the firearms were Uzi pistols.
Sources said the committee held several meetings and submitted its report to the Home Ministry on April 4.
The ministry may take a decision soon after reviewing the findings, the sources said, adding that the findings are likely to go in favour of the arms dealers as the arms were proved as riffles.
Nasir Ahmed, secretary general of Bangladesh Arms Dealers and Importers Association, was a member of the committee. Contacted, he told the Daily Sun that they were optimistic
that the findings of the committee would go in their favour as they did everything legally.
In reply to a query as to whether they are now selling the pistols, he replied in the negative.
But Mokarram Hossain Khan Ripon, proprietor of MH Arms Company, which imported 50 ‘Uzi pistols’ and sold 23 of them, told the Daily Sun that they received no written directive to keep the sale of such weapons stopped.
The Detective Branch of police submitted a probe report on the Uzi pistols to the Police Headquarters. Later, the Police Headquarters conducted another investigation and submitted an eight-point recommendation to the Home Ministry.