Aug. 11: Four men carrying 24 detonators stuffed with “high-quality” RDX and neatly stacked inside matchboxes were arrested today on board a Calcutta-bound bus.
Sherpo Mondol, 30, a resident of Baripada in Orissa, Tepina Danto, 27, Ilias Boya, 30, and Dastina Raito, 25, all residents of Naogara in Orissa, were arrested during a “routine check” at Sonapur in Chopra in North Dinajpur.
“We are exploring all angles, including the connections of these youths with militant outfits of the region. We are also probing whether the youths have any Naxalite links. The Central Forensic Science Laboratory will be asked to determine the calibre of the explosives,” said inspector-general (north) Bhupinder Singh at a press meet in Chopra.
The police have also recovered army fatigues, police uniform, a camera and Rs 18,000 from the youths who sported fake identity cards belonging to the General Reserve Engineering Force.
The quartet told the police during interrogation that they worked as contract labourers in Arunachal Pradesh and were on their way home.
“There was a fifth person who was not on the bus at the time of the arrests. We are trying to trace him. We have stepped up vigil on all sensitive stretches in north Bengal. The national highways, which criss-cross the region, are being patrolled round the clock,” Singh said.
The seizure, being labelled as one of the biggest explosive hauls in recent times, has thrown the police and security officials in a tizzy.
The police had in January recovered 300 detonator caps from New Jalpaiguri station. The detonators were found in a gunny bag left under a bench on the toy-train platform.
Intelligence branch and senior police officials, including Singh, deputy inspector-general of Darjeeling range Manoj Malviya and Uttar Dinajpur superintendent of police Nabarun Bhattacharya, have rushed to the spot.
“Some inconsistencies have been detected in the statements of those arrested. They claimed that the sack containing the explosives was handed to them by some unknown person who said he would pick the bag in Calcutta,” inspector-general (law and order) Chayan Mukherjee said in Calcutta.