Inadequate staff, old weapons at China-border police stations

Shimla, April 14 (IANS) Himachal Pradesh’s Kinnaur district, which shares a porous border with China, depends upon outdated arms like .303 rifles to tackle crime, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) said.

Smuggling of rare species of fauna and of Chinese goods are reported quite frequently in this district.

Police stations in Kinnaur continued to depend on outdated weapons like .303 rifles instead of the prescribed 7.62 mm self-loading rifles (SLRs) affecting the striking capabilities of the police force, the CAG said, in a report tabled in the state assembly last week.

The CAG report pointed out that the requirement of weapons was not fully met (by the state government), and in case of 7.62 mm SLRs, it was highly deficient at 98 percent.

As per Bureau of Police Research and Development norms, the district requires 307 SLRs of 7.62 mm and 39 pistols of 9 mm calibre.

But the CAG said police have only seven SLRs of 7.62 mm, a shortfall of 300 weapons, and 33 pistols of 9 mm, which is six pistols short of requirement.

The CAG report said the superintendent of police, in a reply in July 2012, said they are holding .303 rifles in place of 7.62 mm SLRs and revolvers in place of 9 mm pistols.

It also said that against the sanctioned strength of 409 police personnel, including officers, the district has only deployed 378 men, as of March 2012.

Home to around 84,000 people as per the 2011 census, Kinnaur district, located in the state’s north-east, is bounded by Tibet in the east, the state’s Lahaul-Spiti district in the north-west — which too too shares a border with Tibet, and Uttarakhand in the south.

The district has no airport and rail connectivity. The nearest airport and railway station, in Shimla, are 235 km away from Rekong Peo, district headquarters.

Over 15 tonnes of red sanders wood, listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) list, was seized from upper Shimla while being smuggled to China via Kinnaur in December 2011.

In September the same year, two truckloads of prized pashmina wool were seized in Kinnaur. Police officials said the wool was smuggled into India from China.

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