KATHMANDU –
The final destination of most of the trafficked small arms via the Nepal-India border is Kathmandu Valley, a study has revealed.

The recent research conducted jointly by the Small Arms Survey (SAS), Nepal Armed Violence Assessment (NAVA) and Interdisciplinary Analysts estimates Kathmandu Valley is currently housing more than 10,000 of the total 395,000 privately-owned illegal firearms throughout the country. According to available data, only 55,000 of the weapons are registered.

The research attributes the high density of illegal firearms in the Valley to various factors, including hooliganism, high-end organised and economically motivated crime.

“Being the political and economic centre of the country, the Kathmandu valley has long been affected by violence and armed group activity,” the report says.

“Armed groups here have extended their links to other urban centres in the country, where they pursue similar activities, including extortion and smuggling of various kinds.” The study also briefly outlines the link between armed groups in the Capital and politicians. “At various times, all political parties have been shown to have connections with controversial individuals and businessmen,” the report states. It divides the types of armed groups operating in the Capital as clandestine groups, politically affiliated groups and youth organisations of political parties.

The report marks a shift in the route of illegal arms trafficking from the eastern Tarai districts to the border areas in the Far West. According to the report, most of the trafficked weapons are country-made and factory-made handguns, including 7.65 mm pistols, 9 mm pistols, Sixer pistols, Indian pistols, Revolvers, Italian pistols and US pistols.Addressing a programme organised to launch the report, Joint Secretary of Home Ministry Shankar Koirala said some positive signs have been seen of late, as the government has appealed to all to surrender their illegal weapons throughout the country.

According to him, while 1,068 weapons were seized last year, 5,500 have been surrendered in the past three months. Swiss envoy Thomas Gass lauded the government’s initiatives to collect the illegal weapons. He also underscored the need to tackle the existing challenges showing up in the form of armed violence. “A violent past during the insurgency has had a terrible impact on the grassroots level,” he told the programme.

Australian Ambassador Glenn While said limited analysis and information on the presence of unauthorised weapons have fuelled community problems brought about by armed violence.

The findings

• Kathmandu currently has over 10,000 of the total 395,000 privately-owned illegal firearms

• Only 55,000 of the weapons across the country are registered

• Hooliganism, high-end organised and economically motivated crime are reasons

• Armed groups in Capital have extended links to other urban centres

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