How easy is it to buy guns in India? If we go by what we see on social media, it seems fairly easy.
On 6 August, Bhagirath Pareek posted a phone number to call for guns, on a Facebook group called ‘Gangstar’. The group is full of posts that showcase guns and have numbers listed for buyers.
When the reporter contacted the given number, the man who picked up the call identified himself as Mohit Kashyap. He said he was from Ujjain but could deliver the weapon to Delhi within a day through his contacts in Delhi and the surrounding areas. He then sent multiple photos of different types of pistols with their prices on WhatsApp. Confidently he said, "Police cannot track us as we use phone numbers that are allotted in someone else's name."
Decode tracked 9 pages on Instagram, 12 YouTube channels and more than 50 Facebook posts and Telegram channels that either sold or promoted guns.
On multiple Facebook groups, accounts claimed to sell weapons, each with phone numbers. Decode reached out to three of them. The individuals behind all three phone numbers confirmed that they sell weapons and sent photos of guns along with prices to the reporter.
A Facebook group called NB Neeraj Bawana Group with 12000 members had 10 posts dedicated to selling guns. The largest Facebook group focusing on selling weapons is the Lawrence Bishnoi group with 19000 members, featuring multiple similar posts. Interestingly, there's a group named SOPU GROUP LAWRENCE BISHNOI with 47000 members, named after Lawrence Bishnoi and the Students Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU), Bishnoi used to be the president of this student political party. This group sells various items like T-shirts, earphones, household electrical appliances, and also advertises house rentals and saree sales.
There's another Facebook group called 'gangstar group [Gangster Group]' with 4500 members that is filled with content related to Neeraj Bawana, Lawrence Bishnoi, Durlabh Kashyap, nationalism, and Hindu religious videos. These posts often feature attractive edits and celebrations of the gangsters. This group has around 50 posts selling guns.
Furthermore, there are at least four Facebook groups under the name of Lawrence Bishnoi, with 262, 87, 21, and 32 members respectively, that are solely dedicated to posts selling firearms.
The Show Of Firearms And Bullets
A page named after Davinder Bambiha regularly posts photos and videos showcasing firearms, often firing them for demonstration. The Instagram account has around 10.4 thousand followers.
Davinder Bambiha, also known as Davinder Singh Sidhu, was a popular Kabaddi player hailing from Moga District in Punjab. Even after his death in a police encounter back in September 2016, his gang remains active across Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan.
One post on this page is a photo of Jitendra Maan, also known as Gogi, lying after being shot dead by the Tillu Tajpuriya gang inside a court premises in Delhi in December 2021. In May of this year, Tillu Tajpuriya was murdered inside the Tihar Jail by the Gogi gang. The post on Instagram is captioned, “Tillu Tajpuriya had killed Gogi inside the court premises, while you murdered brother Tillu by deceiving him. Don't feel like a king. Wait and watch, we will avenge.” The song being played in the background is "I Shall Shoot You Inside the Court” by Haryanvi Singer Rahul Puthi. The post has received 1134 likes and 64 comments, many celebrating the murder of the man in the photo.
The post is in violation of the Instagram community guidelines that says, "Sharing graphic images for sadistic pleasure or to glorify violence is never allowed."
Shivam Kumar, a 20-year-old from Meerut runs a YouTube channel 'Shivam Vlogpur’— where one his main content is — guns. Kumar’s father is a farmer and he is a first-year student of a diploma program in education. "I started creating these videos about guns because I know their potential to go viral,” he told Decode.
Being from Meerut, he says, means he has grown up learning about the fascination with guns and cricket. While the content featuring guns are not monetised, Kumar told Decode that his content on cricket bats are monetised by YouTube. “I receive payment from the owners of gun shops and bat shops, approximately ₹10,000 for creating a video," he said.
Notably, Meerut is known for manufacturing high-quality cricket bats and has also been at the center of discussions regarding the gun culture in North India.
While Shivam hasn't posted any videos of firing guns yet, he said that he is planning to create such content inspired by the virality of such videos on YouTube.
The popularity of content related to guns can be gauged by another example. On a YouTube channel named Ashwin Singh Takiar, with 554 thousand subscribers, who mostly creates videos about cars and road trips, the second most popular video has 2.3 million views with the title "I'm buying a shotgun, gunhouse tour." In the thumbnail, he is posing with a gun.
In the video, he mentions, "I had bought a revolver and made a video that received huge love... that made me realise that there's a huge audience of gun lovers in India. So, this video is for gun lovers." He also states in the video that he wants to promote "save gun culture."
On the channel Techbar, with 42 lakh subscribers, which focuses on videos about phones, speakers, laptops, and other gadgets, the second most popular video involves testing a pellet gun , which has 50 million views.
A verified YouTube channel named Bandookwale, which translates to 'Gun Owner,' with 131 thousand subscribers, posts videos of firing assault firearms and discussing features, delving into the history of different guns. One comment in Hindi under his video of testing a firearm says, "I have been watching videos of foreigners until now, but no one has shown this much courage. The man in the video hurts his shoulder by the recoil of the gun."
The "About" section of the channel states that it is run by Sourabh Luthra, the director of Luthra Gunhouse, located in Batala, Punjab. With content along the same lines, he has 10.5 thousand followers on Instagram as well.
Guns For Sale
A new account created a week back called Kapil Kumar has a profile picture of a man holding guns with text saying ALL INDIA LEAVE RECTATA 9 MM PISTOL with his phone number. The person also has created a new group with name 69********** Desi Katta Pistol Sale Group where he has uploaded multiple photos and videos of pistols and handguns along with cartridges. All posts have same captions of asking people to WhatsApp him on his phone number to buy guns.
Another telegram account “Gun Seller Indian Shop” is full of pictures of 9MM automatic pistols, calibers, etc along with other gun accessories such as silencer, cartridges, etc available. The guns through their pictures seem mostly foreign made with names bearing of USA and certain firms from USA such as Smith & Wesson, 357 Magnum from Georgia. The account in one of the messages notes that it primarily delivers in the USA and people should let them know beforehand for preparation. The account operator also lets it known that they accept payment either through CashApp or in Bitcoin. To generate authenticity, the account operator has also put forward his Aadhar card in the group which shows that he belongs to Loni Khurd locality in Ahmednagar Locality of Maharashtra. We couldn’t verify the authenticity of whether the Aadhar number belonged to the same person.
On YouTube too, content related to guns and firearms is quite popular. A video with the thumbnail caption "All India delivery, no licence required" has received more than 3.7 million views, which is more than 37 times its number of subscribers, which stands at 97.8 thousand. The channel is named Shivam Vlogpur. The video features a man named Manav from Meerut. In the video, he says, "I mostly sell air guns that don't require any licence." He goes on to show the features and prices of the air guns, and while showing one gun, he says, "this is very small-sized... and can be used by anyone, including children." According to Arms Rule 2016, air guns do require a licence.
The channel's videos cover a wide range of topics, from breeds of dogs and the price and quality of cricket bats to guns. However, the 'gun' video is the most popular one on the channel. Many videos on the channel have garnered views in a few thousands and some even less than one thousand. Two more videos with thumbnails "No licence required" and "get delivered home and no license required" on the channel have received views around 250 thousand each.
When asked about his knowledge of the legality of licenses for air rifles, Shivam said, "I've seen shopkeepers selling air rifles without licenses, so I don't think a license is needed. People contact me to help them buy air guns without a license after watching my videos, and I assist them.”
"While I charge no more than ₹10,000 for a video featuring a gun shop, the owners of these shops benefit by an average of ₹2-3 lakhs by collaborating with me,” he added.
Despite Facebook's policy that states "The purchase, sale or trade of firearms, ammunition and explosives between private individuals isn't allowed on Facebook" there are numerous posts by individuals claiming to sell firearms on the social media platform.
The YouTube guidelines do not prohibit showing the collection of firearms or testing them in a shooting range, but they do prohibit the sale of firearms. The guidelines regarding this state, "Content intended to sell firearms, instruct viewers on how to make firearms, ammunition, and certain accessories, or instruct viewers on how to install those accessories is not allowed on YouTube."
Decode reached out to YouTube and Facebook for comments but did not get a response at the time of publishing this story.
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