The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Scrap shells trail branches to Africa

New Delhi, Oct. 10: As live shells and mortars ' mostly leftovers from the Iran-Iraq conflict ' crop up in scrap consignments, investigators in Delhi have traced another trail of dangerous shipments to the war-torn areas of Africa.

Working backwards from a detained container in the Tughlakabad Inland Container Depot here which yielded 68 shells, including 43 live ones, police said the invoice showed Dubai-based Al Munejaf Trading Company was sending the consignment to Norma steel factory at Bhiwandi in Rajasthan.

The customs house agent for the shipment was the South Africa-based American Shipping Company and the scrap had sailed from Djibouti port in eastern Africa. It landed in Mumbai and was transported by train to Tughlakabad. As Djibouti is adjacent to Somalia, sleuths believe the Dubai firm had bought the scrap from the war-ravaged country.

The depot authorities are believed to have detected live explosives in the container in August, but it was lying in storage as the police's bomb disposal squad had its hands full.

The National Security Guards bomb squad today finished sifting through the three containers of scrap meant for the Bhushan steel factory in Ghaziabad, where the lid on the bombs-in-scrap racket was blown off by an explosion that killed 10 workers. The three containers were held back at the depot after 11 truckloads of metal junk in the factory yielded scores of live munitions. No explosives were found today.

However, alarming quantities of live ammunition were recovered elsewhere, including a drain in Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh. A rag-picker found 156 rockets and bombs ' 63 of them live ' in the drain in Secunderabad area and informed the police.

District magistrate Abhishek Singh said he suspects 'distress dumping' of the ammunition by two steel units ' Saini Steel and Gangeshwar Steel ' situated in the industrial area of the town.

In Jaipur, at least 20 live pieces of ammunition and huge empty shells were unearthed during daylong raids at the Balaji Foundry, where 90 mortars and rockets were found last night. Two drums containing similar explosives were found near Dudu on the Jaipur-Ajmer highway.

At Kandla port in Bhuj, 50 used shells were found in iron scrap containers two days ago, police in Ahmedabad said. None of the shells were found to contain any explosive substances, Kandla police said.

After Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan, the shell scare reached Punjab when 250 cartridges were recovered from a canal close to a metal scrap market at Mandi Gobindgarh in Fatehgarh district. It is one of the largest markets of imported scrap, officials said.

A cache of explosives, including 100-150 shells and around 1,000 cartridges, was also recovered from a steelyard close to a wholesale steel market near Mumbai. 'However, most of them were rusted and around 70 per cent were empty. Only 30 per cent contained explosive material,' police said.

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