Keyman Budhu Karwa, who spotted wires leading to explosives tucked under tracks, on Sunday. (Animesh Sengupta)
Powerful explosives planted on railway tracks just 10km from Tatanagar station were defused by a bomb squad on Sunday morning, averting a catastrophe that could have blown up an entire coach and killed hundreds, but it has not yet been established if rebels or any other outfit had masterminded the job.
Three pipe bombs, an equal number of batteries, six gelatine sticks and wires were found under the fishplate of tracks near Burudih level crossing on the Tata-Badampahar route under the Chakradharpur railway division.
It is yet to be established who — Maoists or their offshoots — masterminded the job.
The keen eye of keyman Budhu Karwa spotted telltale wires around 8.45am while on patrol. He immediately informed Tatanagar railway authorities, who rushed in an East Singhbhum district bomb disposal squad.
Had Karwa not spotted the wires, any of the trains crossing the stretch — Tata-Badampahar Passenger that links Jamshedpur with Badampahar in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district and goods trains carrying iron ore and limestone for sponge iron units in and around the steel city — might have been blown up.
Tatanagar assistant engineer R.P. Meena confirmed high-grade explosives were seized.
“Prima facie, it appears the bombs were targeted to blow up the passenger train or goods trains that ply the route,” Meena told The Telegraph. “By god’s grace Tata-Badampahar Passenger train passed Burudih level crossing at 6.40am like it does everyday. It was supposed to return around 4pm, but after the discovery we stopped movement of trains,” he added.
Police and Railway Protection Force (RPF) investigations will reveal when the bombs were planted, by whom and when they had planned to detonate the explosives.
SSP Akhilesh Kumar Jha said the real job now was establishing who were behind this plot. “Chances of rebels planting the bombs on the track cannot be ruled out, though there are other suspects. We have to verify the specifics of bombs for clues,” he said.
Concurring with Jha, superintendent of railway police (Tatanagar) Mritunjay Kishore said it was a lucky event that bombs were defused. Officer in charge of Potka police station Vidya Singh said the area was clean of rebels so it was tough to stay who was responsible.
The involvement of Jharkhand Andolankari Morcha workers, observing a three-day Jharkhand bandh since September 28 to demand benefits for statehood leaders on a par with freedom fighters, is also suspected. A case has been registered at Potka thana.