Demand for locally-made firearms on rise: police
The demand for locally-made firearms has risen in Chattogram and Cox's Bazar ahead of the upcoming national election slated for January 7 next year, according to the law enforcers.
The information came to light after Chattogram police seized a firearms consignment of at least six locally-made pistols this month.
The seizure of firearms has highlighted the possibility of violence during polls as many independents are contesting against Awami League candidates in different constituencies of Chattogram and Cox's Bazar.
Chattogram Metropolitan Police officials said criminals are trying to smuggle in illegal locally-made firearms from Cox's Bazar's Ramu upazila and the border areas along the hills.
"Police are trying to trace out the whole syndicate," said a CMP official.
According to CMP officials and Rab sources, each locally-made firearm sells for Tk 20,000-40,000.
Mostafijur Rahman, deputy commissioner of Chattogram (south), said, "We have information that locally-made firearms are being smuggled in the city from border areas ahead of the election. We don't want to elaborate the details now as an investigation is ongoing."
The issue was discussed during a meeting on the district's law and order on December 11 at Chattogram Circuit House, where officials expressed concerns that firearms may be used illegally during the polls.
Meanwhile, Rab-15 in Cox's Bazar busted a firearms factory in a hilly area on December 13 and seized at least eight such firearms and raw materials for making guns and ammunition.
"It's true that the demand for locally-made firearms rose significantly ahead of the election. We had information that criminal groups in the hilly regions who engaged in abduction, murder, extortion, and drug peddling, ordered the firearms from them," said Lt Col HM Sazzad Hossain, commanding officer of Rab-15.
Chattogram's Banshkhali, Satkania, Lohagara, Chandanish, and other areas witnessed use of illegal firearms during polls violences in recent times.
On February 2022, during the union parishad polls, supporters of a chairman candidate locked into fierce clashes in Satkania upazila. The incident made newspaper headlines alongside images of men brandishing firearms, who are allegedly involved with the ruling party.
Police later arrested several persons and recovered a number of firearms but failed to dig deeper regarding the sources.