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HURT LOCKER IN HOWRAH

An unclaimed tiffin box at Howrah railway station on Thursday morning forced a bomb-disposal robot out of the CIDís closet for its first assignment in six years. The Rs 75-lakh robot accomplished with remote-controlled accuracy a task that two bomb squad members died attempting in 2008. Metro was there to witness the Hurt Locker-type operation unfold in front of a curious crowd

An unclaimed aluminium tiffin box packed in polythene was found near the ticket counter close to platform number 8 of Howrah station on Thursday morning. It was 11.30am in the morning and the station complex was filled with people. Around 12.15pm, officers of the Bomb Disposal Squad arrived with... a remote-controlled bomb disposal robot! Belonging to the CID since 2008, it weighs between 50 and 60kg and is fitted with front and rear cameras. Strangely, in the past six years, the device procured from Canada was never used... till Thursday. The robot that removes the suspected bomb to a safer place got down to work. An officer of the squad clad in anti-explosive gear placed the tiffin box in a bucket for the robot to then pick up and move it outside the station complex

Once outside the station complex, the blue bucket was placed by the robot in a larger bright container, called a ďbomb basketĒ. The walls of the container are very thick and it is wrapped with an anti-inflammable cloth. Once the officers got ready to blow the lid off the tiffin box and the police had cordoned off the area, the robot took the blue bucket out of the bomb basket and moved it to an isolated corner

An officer of the bomb squad then attached a wire to the tiffin box and detonated the lid of the box to inspect what was inside.

All this while the officer handling the robot was sitting at a safe distance with the control system that looks like a laptop. There is a control panel to manipulate the arm of the robot and make it move. This officer could see the contents of the tiffin box ó some household items like soaps and creams! No explosive was found.

Pictures by Gopal Senapati