Vizag is slowly but surely losing its ‘safe and peaceful city’ tag. What with being the cyber-crime capital of Andhra Pradesh and with the crime rate on a rise, reports now state that gun culture is on a rise in North Coastal Andhra, especially Visakhapatnam.
Due to the bifurcation, a lot of people from various professions have moved into the city, purchasing properties on the outskirts. Reportedly, other than the realtors, politicos, industrialists and more moving in, political rivals, real estate mafia and criminals are also moving in. This has increased the number of people applying for firearms license in all the three districts.
Other than safety and security, some people think of it as a status symbol to own a firearm. Reportedly, on an average, 60 people apply for firearms. The police reject most of these upon scrutiny. Only in the case of threat to life and attack by rivals do the police sanction licenses. Despite this, there has been an increase in the number of licenses sanctioned in North Coastal Andhra in the last five years.
Reportedly, there are a total of 1694 firearms in the three districts with 787 in Visakhapatnam and 102 in its rural areas alone. Vizianagaram comes a close second with 545 and Srikakulam has 260. Most of the people holding these weapons are politicians, gold traders and realtors with some even holding more than one weapon. With the growing gun culture, majority of the license owners are procuring advanced weapons made outside the country.
During the 2014 general elections there were problems with people not surrendering their weapons, resulting in politicians threatening people with them. Cases were also registered for the same. The figures only reflect the number of registered weapons, while reportedly some politicians and influential businessmen have unregistered ones. In light of the upcoming elections, police have once again asked gun owners to submit their weapons.