NEW DELHI, May 20 (PTI): Women account for just about two per cent of the arms licence holders in the national capital with a majority of them being sportspersons and those who got it through inheritance.
Delhi Police Licensing Department data shows that there are 41,600 arms licence holders in the city’s 15 police districts and of them, 888 are women.
The information was provided by Deputy Commissioner of Police (Licensing) Bisma Qazi in an RTI reply to PTI.
Requesting anonymity, a senior officer earlier posted in the department said,” We do not have any special concession for grant of licence under the law on the grounds of an applicant’s gender.”
“Whether a man or a woman, we analyse if there is a genuine threat to a person’s life and then allow it,” he said and added that the number women applicants is also very low.
District-wise analysis of the data shows that the South police district, which has a number of posh colonies, tops with 264 women arms licence holders. It also has the highest number of all licence holders (7,161) — men and women.
“This goes without saying because well off people live in these areas and some of them have genuine threats to their lives due to various reasons. Besides, some women shooters (sportspersons) live here and hence, the number is quite high,” a retired official of the police’s arms licencing unit said on the condition of anonymity.
The New Delhi police district has 138 women with arms licences. The district also stands second (3,972) in terms of total number of licences issued.
With 103 arms licences granted to women, the South West police district comes in third among the 15 districts. This district is also third in terms total number of licence holders which is 3,879.
“The South West district has witnessed a lot of gang wars in the past and many women have lost their husbands in theses fights,” the retired official claimed.
The official said that “a few of them have real threats to their lives because their husbands were associated with one gang or the other”.
“Hence, they demanded arms licences and we issued them. That is why you can find the number high in this district,” the official claimed.
Talking about the profile of the 888 women arms licence holders, senior officers posted in the arms licencing department said that they can be broadly divided into three categories.
One of the officers said that “a substantial chunk of the licences belongs to women shooters (sportspersons)”.
“Then you have another category of those women who have inherited these licences from their male family members after they passed away,” he said.
The officer said, “Then you have the third category of single and working women who have opted for an arms licence. Some of them come from politically important families.”
A woman doctor, who has close political connections in Haryana and holds an arms licence, told PTI: “My working hours are quite erratic and I often go to work or come back home at odd hours. Hence, I went for an arms license.” “It gives me a sense of safety while driving on empty roads late at night,” she said.
National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) data shows that Delhi is the most unsafe place for women among all metro cities.
Experts said that carrying arms comes with a huge liability as its misuse can have grave consequences and pointed out that the arms law is very stringent.
“This is perhaps one of the major reasons why women don’t want to go for it,” the officer said, adding that the process of issuing arms licences keeps is highly conservative and stringent, and numbers are kept in check.
“Issuing an arms licence is the discretion of the licensing authority. Therefore, a person needs to convince the authority that he or she really needs it,” he said.
The officer said the main challenge is keeping and handling arms safely. “There is no proper training available. Most people do not know how to handle arms. There have been several cases in which careless handling of ammunition have landed people in trouble at airports,” he rued.