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Truck with explosives

Calcutta, Sept. 12: A truck loaded with explosives was intercepted in Purulia last night near an intersection where one of the roads branched off towards the Dhanbad-Barakar zone.

The driver and the cleaner were detained. Though both claimed that the consignment was headed to an explosives-making unit near Bokaro, the spot of the seizure and the timing — hours after plates were found removed from railway tracks near Barakar — made the law-enforcing agencies suspect “something amiss”, police officers said.

The driver-cleaner duo told the police that the ammonium nitrate — an essential ingredient in explosives, of which the truck was carrying 18 metric tonnes — was coming from the Haldia port and was meant for the Indian Explosives Ltd factory at Gomia near Bokaro. The unit supplies detonators and other explosives to mines in the coal-rich belt, officials said.

But the duo did not have any documents to back their claim. “We have already sent word to the Indian Explosives Ltd authorities,” Purulia superintendent of police Vineet Goel said over phone this evening. “But no one has responded to our urgent missives.”

The truck was seized at Chas More in Purulia, police said. This intersection has several roads, one of which branches towards the Dhanbad-Barakar belt. This was where plates were removed from the tracks last evening, a few hours before two Rajdhani Express trains — one from Howrah and the other from Sealdah — were to pass, and one person was arrested.

Officials said the truck was asked to halt at the intersection a few hours after an alert was sounded following the railway-track incident. “The driver and the cleaner came down from the truck and were questioned by police about what the vehicle was carrying,” inspector-general (law and order) Chayan Mukherjee said today. After persistent inquiry, they owned up to what was inside.

“Both have been taken into preventive custody and are being interrogated by police in Purulia,” Mukherjee said. They had no valid documents, he added.

Officials said the quantity of explosives seized was “huge” and it was “unnatural” for any vehicle to be carrying it without papers. “Our suspicion has been aroused by this want of documents as well as the timing and the spot of the seizure,” Goel said.

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