The National Investigation Agency has recovered six more of the 56 pistols that went missing from the armoury of the 2nd Battalion of the Manipur Rifles during 2016-17 only to land in the hands of extremists.The recovery of the pistols on Saturday from a place 20 km from Manipur capital Imphal followed NIA’s arrest of Congress MLA Yamthong Haokip, 72, on charges of illegally “procuring” police weapons and distributing them among militant groups “to wage war against the State”.20 recovered so farThe NIA has so far recovered 20 of the missing pistols since taking over investigation into the missing arms case in May. The trigger for the probe was the recovery of three pistols besides two German-made rifles and a semi-automatic shotgun from an SUV near Manipur’s Ukhrul town on May 21 during a search by the Assam Rifles.An NIA spokesperson said David Hangshing, the chairman of the extremist Kuki Revolutionary Army (KRA) who was arrested on Friday, had provided the address of the place were the six 9mm pistols had been hidden. The KRA is in an agreement of suspension of operations with the government.“During interrogation, he said he had received the police pistols from Saikul (Assembly seat) MLA Haokip,” he said.Matching numbersThe seized pistols were found to be from the lot of missing pistols. The serial numbers of five pistols matched with those of the missing pistols while that of one pistol had been erased, the spokesperson said.Hanshing was on Saturday produced before a magistrate, who remanded him to police custody. He will now be produced before a special NIA court.Mr. Haokip is one of 11 persons arrested in connection with the case of the missing police pistols. One of these pistols, bearing licence number 18506735, was seized from his Imphal residence during a raid on July 30.Two other pistols – a U.S.-made Beretta and an unlicensed 9mm Pietro Beretta Gardone pistol, made in Italy – were also seized from Mr. Haokip’s residence.Investigations revealed that apart from KRA, some of the 9mm police pistols reached United Kuki Liberation Front, another Manipur-based extremist outfit. Nine of these pistols were recovered from the house of this group’s chief Soson Haokip in Imphal on Thursday.
Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting claims that he persuaded Rahul Dravid against retiring when he was written off after a string of low scores last year and the in- form Indian batsman has reciprocated the support by inspiring him during his lean patch.Dravid, the lone Indian batsman to perform well in with three centuries and 461 runs in the team’s recent 0- 4 Test whitewash at the hands of England, was woefully out of form last year and Ponting said he encouraged the veteran right-hander carry on despite the criticism.”I remember after our last series in India there was a lot of talk and speculation about Dravid being finished,” Ponting told a cricket website.”I actually went and found him at the end of the series and said ‘don’t you even think about retiring’ because I just saw some stuff in a few of his innings that suggested he was still a very, very good player.”I just said ‘don’t let them wear you down, don’t let them get you down’. I received a similar text message before and after the Ashes from him as well,” he added.The 36-year-old Ponting has not scored a Test century since January last year but he is confident of regaining his touch and he is looking up to Dravid for inspiration.”There are a few ( who provide an inspiration for batsmen of advancing years).Sachin (Tendulkar) and (Jacques) Kallis both had a great last year; Dravid is doing well now. It’s not only good for guys of my age to see guys doing that, it’s good for the younger blokes to see it as well; to know that if you keep doing the right things and work hard, and if you’ve got talent, then age is not a barrier in our game,” he said.advertisementSpeaking about the state of the game in general, Ponting said he is worried about the impact of Twenty20 on youngsters.”The big worry I’ve had about Twenty20 cricket and even other shorter forms of the game being played at really developmental times in kids’ careers is that it won’t teach them the art of concentration.”Cricket for me when I was growing up meant batting until someone got me out, and if that took them a week then that’s how long it took them,” he said.”Now, even Under-17s and Under-19s are playing T20 games in national championships, and at the detriment of two- day games. Good state players these days are averaging 35; if you were averaging 35 when I was playing your dad would go and buy you a basketball or a footy and tell you to play that. So there are areas of concern there; I don’t know how you change them,” he explained.Asked about India’s slide from the top of ICC rankings after the debacle in England, Ponting said it would be interesting to see how Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men do once the veterans retire.”India still haven’t reached that point that I thought they’d get to yet. They’ve still got that crux, those great batters in that side. Time will tell with India now. Dravid was probably one who was in the gun before the rest of them and he’s found a way to come through,” he said.”They (Tendulkar, Dravid and VVS Laxman) are all about the same age and they won’t go on forever. They will be tested more than anything with their bowlers.”- With inputs from PTI
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