The Kolkata Municipal Corporation is planning to renew the licence of a Colt revolver and a double-barrelled gun issued in Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s name when he took oath as Kolkata mayor on August 22, 1930, and put it on public display.
The revolver and gun are now locked in a KMC treasury department vault at its S N Banerjee Road headquarters. Netaji, as the mayor, was also given a customary sword and armour. He had continued as Kolkata’s first citizen till April 15, 1931.
The five-year “special licence” will allow the corporation to bring the arms out of its vault and put them on public display.
This is going to be part of KMC’s year-long special programmes across 144 wards to commemorate Netaji’s 125th birth anniversary.
Although a visitor now gets to view some artefacts kept at the KMC headquarters, including the chair on which Netaji used to sit while holding meetings with civic officials, and the teak desk which has not lost its shine even today, the existence of the revolver, the gun and the sword had been a closely guarded secret for decades.
In fact, very few in the civic brass were aware of these treasures till eight years ago, when some treasury department employees took the initiative to search. The three items were recovered from a vault of the treasury department on the ground floor of the KMC headquarters. This apart, several other revolvers and guns were recovered from other vaults of the treasury department. One of the guns was used by the then treasurer each time the civic official would move out of the headquarters with a trunk full of cash to be deposited at specified banks. However, Netaji’s Colt, with a holster, distinguishes itself from other revolvers kept in the vault.
Licence a must if firearms are shifted out of civic office
After the recovery of the firearms, civic officials in charge of the treasury department also found relevant papers suggesting a periodic renewal of licence of the revolvers and guns. “I had passed a proposal to renew the licence of firearms, including those which were issued in the name of Netaji, in 2012. But I don’t know what happened afterwards as I retired shortly after the proposal was made,” said a KMC official.
A treasury department official said a proposal had been made to shift the valuable itemss from the civic headquarters to the Town Hall museum for public viewing. “But the civic authorities didn’t pay heed to the proposal. On the contrary, it was decided that a special vault containing the rare items would be sealed. Now, we need to take steps to renew the licences of the firearms, following rules,” he added.
Police sources said a gun licence is mandatory if the arms have to be shifted out of the KMC headquarters. “In 2016, the rules were amended to allow for a five-year gun licence. The rules stipulate that a licence has to be issued in the name of the place where a firearm is displayed for public exhibition,” said a source.