"I'm the father of five sons and my .315 bore gun is my sixth son. Depositing the gun is like surrendering my son to someone else. The month-long wait for bypolls to get back the gun is very long," said teary-eyed septuagenarian farmer from Morena
Dacoits may no longer be stalking the ravines of the Gwalior-Chambal region but the ‘gun culture’ they left behind is still going strong.
Figures of licensed guns deposited at police stations in the seven districts of the region, ahead of assembly by-polls, show how guns are still a prized possession for the people of this region. Importantly, out of the 28 assembly seats going to by-polls on November 3, the maximum 16 are in Gwalior-Chambal region only.
Over 1.04 lakh licensed guns have so far been deposited in the seven districts of the region. They include 12 bore guns, 315 bore rifles, revolvers and pistols.
The maximum 29,000 guns have been deposited in Gwalior district, followed by 27,000 in Morena, 22,000 in Bhind, 10,000 in Shivpuri, 8000 plus in Datia, 4500-plus in Guna and 3800-plus in Ashok Nagar.
Importantly, in the other districts of MP, going by-polls, the number of deposited licensed guns is much less: 7000 in Sagar, 2500-plus in Indore, 5500-plus in Dhar and 4000-plus in Mandsaur.
According to the SP Gwalior Amit Sanghi, "The gun culture runs in the blood of the region, which borders Rajasthan and UP. Historically right since the Mughal and later, the, British era, this region has been famous for its warriors and its guns."
Another SP Rajesh Chandel of Shivpuri said the quantity and quality of guns held by a family determines its social standing. There was a time when holes in tents made by bullets fired in air decided the grandeur of marriages in the region.
At the Civil Lines police station area of Morena district, young farmer Kalicharan Sharma kissed his .12 bore gun before depositing it. "I'm depositing my family's honour in the safe custody of police till elections are over," said Sharma.
The long queues of licensed weapon holders waiting to deposit their guns at the police station included septuagenarian farmer Vrindavan.