Investigation into the seizure of handguns at IGI Airport from a Gurgaon-based couple has revealed that one of the accused, Manjit Singh, and his younger brother Jagjit Singh have allegedly been importing handguns from Europe to India for over a decade. The business was allegedly run from their offices and residence in Austria and Gurgaon under the garb of a garments business.
On July 11, Jagjit and his wife Jaswinder were caught with 45 handguns worth Rs 22 lakhs at IGI airport. The couple had come from Vietnam when the customs department found the weapons stashed in their two trolley bags and arrested them. On July 18, the Delhi Police’s Special Cell arrested Manjit from Dwarka for allegedly smuggling the weapons from France. Customs officials had said that Manjit had also arrived at IGI Airport at the same time and handed over the weapons to Jagjit.
The investigating team found that Manjit and Jagjit have allegedly been smuggling blank pistols from different countries under the garb of their business, Three Circles Exports, to evade arrest. In 2014, Manjit and his two associates were arrested by Delhi Police’s Special Cell from Dwarka with over 150 pistols and revolvers. The weapons were recovered from a Tata Nano car during checking and Manjit was later released on bail. All the pistols that have been recovered are blank pistols but with ‘slight modification’ they can be used to shoot someone.
During questioning, the accused are learnt to have told investigators that their father had a real-estate business but they wanted to start something of their own. In 2000, Manjit travelled to Hong Kong and started the business of importing garments, said police. Soon, Manjit was able to get a visa in Austria.
Said a senior officer, “Within a few years, he came in contact with a few men in Austria who were selling weapons illegally. On his trip back to India, he allegedly contacted gun houses in Delhi and Gurgaon and found that the demand for such pistols is high. He allegedly started importing pistols from Austria, Germany, France and other countries. Everything was being done alongside the garment business. Jagjit also joined his brother and moved to Austria for some time. He also got married to an Austrian national but the couple separated in 2017. He later got married to Jaswinder.”
Each weapon was bought at Rs 4,000- Rs 6,000 and sold at as much as ten times the price in Delhi and Haryana. Officers found that the brothers were allegedly making huge profits since 2007-08. They also allegedly opened an office in Austria to deal with gun sellers and contacted them through social media.
A team under DCP Rajeev Ranjan, ACP Sanjay Dutt and inspector Chandrika Prasad found that the accused allegedly have 4-5 properties in Delhi’s Kalkaji and Dwarka along with a farmhouse in Gurgaon. Manjit revealed during questioning that he also went to America and wanted to settle there but didn’t get a VISA.
The Foreign Post Office (FPO) connection
Customs and Special Cell teams also found that Manjit was allegedly set to receive over 30 handguns at the FPO in Delhi’s ITO area. The handguns were being sent through 5-6 parcels, some of which have been stopped/blocked in Paris.
“Since 2011, Manjit has allegedly been smuggling hundreds of pistols each year. He makes 2-3 trips to Europe every year for his business. It is suspected they have connections at the airport and postal department because many of the parcels have gone through and only a few have been blocked over the years,” said the officer.
Manjit also claimed that he was taking pistols because he is a state-level shooter and has a shooting range but police claimed they haven’t found any licence to prove this. Manjit has no hunting/sporting licence in any country, police added.
“The passengers (Jagjit and Jaswinder) were intercepted by Customs when they had passed the green channel of the arrival hall and were approaching the exit gate… both passengers had admitted their previous indulgence in smuggling 25 pieces of assorted guns from Turkey having a value of Rs 12,50,000,” a statement issued by Commissioner of Customs Zubair Riaz Kamili read.