Kathmandu, Sep 8 (IANS) Senior police officers in the Kathmandu Valley have warned that Nepali capital has been turned into a hub for illegal trade of small arms and guns.
The nation's one and only major tourist hub Thamel has become a major centre for illegal exchange and buying of small arms, which threatens the safety of foreign tourists, said Hanumandhoka Jaya Bahadur Chand, chief of the Kathmandu District Police also known as Metropolitan Police Range (MPR), Xinhua reported.
"We fear that Thamel is becoming a hub zone for exchange and buying of illegal drugs and peddlers are also increasing in the area," he said.
According to Chand, Thamel's Kalanki chowk, the one and only entry point in the capital from southwest region via India, and Tatopani area of Sindhupalchowk district in northeast part of the capital are the major routes for import of small arms and guns.
According to the police, over 90 percent of small arms and guns imported in Nepal from India, where the two countries share an open border.
Most guns were smuggled from different places in the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Jharkhand through Bahraich and Raxaul border crossings, said SSP Chand.
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) and Metropolitan Police Crime Division (MPCD) chief Devendra Subedi said most of the smuggled guns were used in extortion.
"It has become a great challenge to Nepal Police to contain the use of small arms and reduce gun culture due to open border with India," he said. Guns smuggled from India can be bought within just (Nepali) Rs.3,500.
According to Subedi in the last three-and a-half year starting from 2009-2012, police records showed that altogether 12 Nepalese including a former judge of Nepal's Supreme Court were shot dead within the capital alone.
Unidentified gunmen gunned down former judge Rana Bahadur Bam four months ago in the capital. Police are yet to identify the assailants and bring any of the guilty to book till date.
Subedi said most of the firing incidents took place in the capital with the motives of collecting money, some of them for personal revenge and some due to having national and international nexus with criminal groups.
Data in these three years show that a total of 36 weapons were seized including 22 pistols (with 89 bullets), three revolvers (with six rounds of bullets), other guns and 159 bullets for them, and six home-made guns.