| The bomb shells found at Kounu hill. Telegraph picture |
Imphal, April 4: On a trek up Kounu hills for the annual ritualistic cleaning of a temple, villagers stumbled on 39 bombs, believed to be World War II remnants, lodged under rocks and boulders.
Residents of Kounu, about 30km from Imphal, today informed the media that a group of villagers found the bombs or shells when they were cleaning the temple complex of a local deity called Kounu Lairembi on Monday and brought down all the bombs yesterday to the foothills.
The foothills zone is 9km from the spot where the bombs were found.
“The bombs were under boulders and earth and are of different sizes,” W. Jiten Meitei, vice-president of Kounu Lairembi Thougal Lup, the group managing the temple, told reporters today.
Even the printed letters on a few of them were intact. “Booster M-20 A1, ROP 1942 Lot 3 6965229” read one.
The bombs have been on display at the foothill since yesterday.
On an average, the bombs weigh between1.5kg to 3.5kg .
“It could be World War II bombs. But we cannot say anything without seeing them,” a senior official at the art and culture directorate said.
Manipur was the scene of many fierce battles between the Japanese and Allied forces.
The Japanese were beaten back before they could enter Imphal.
Officials at the arts and culture department, state museum and archaeology department, said they were not aware of the matter.
“Even if we get the information, we cannot go and collect them by ourselves. First, the police should collect them and if the shells are to be kept at the museum, all the explosive materials should be removed and the empty shells should be given to us,” the official at the art and culture department said.
Museum officials said one such bomb was recovered a few years back but was safely exploded by the police.
All the arms and ammunition belonging to World War II are kept at the Indian National Army Museum, at Moirang in Bishnupur district. The museum was constructed in memory of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army, which hoisted the Tricolour (with the emblem of the springing tiger) at Moirang on April 14, 1944.
A police team from Imphal West rushed to the foothill and examined the bombs this afternoon.
A police official later said that they were empty shells.