| Members of the bomb squad inspect the school campus. Picture by Anirban Choudhury
Shalkumarhat (Alipurduar), Aug. 14: Four powerful explosives fitted with a timer was recovered from the campus of a high school here, 24 hours before the nation celebrates Independence Day.
Despite the tight security arrangement, the detection of the bombs in the Shalkumar Hat area, 42 km from Alipurduar town, this morning has come as a nasty shock to the district police.
According to experts, the bombs had the power to damage Shalkumarhat High School and the police camp located nearby. The explosives were first spotted at five in the morning on the school verandah by police personnel who had gone to fetch water from a tubewell there.
K.L. Meena, the inspector-general of police, north Bengal, said the bombs had been planted there to create panic. “The whole purpose was to evoke fear. The involvement of the KLO cannot be ruled out. We are also bringing in sniffer dogs. This is serious and we will have to find out how such powerful explosives were planted in front of a police camp.”
Located between the Torsha and the Jaldapara sanctuary, the area has been a hub of rebel activity for some time.
The subdivisional police officer of Alipurduar, Bhashkar Mukherjee, was the first to be informed. He arrived at the spot with a large police force, including the CRPF, within one-and-a-half hours. The bomb disposal squad came around 12.30 pm.
By the time, there were rumours that more explosives had been detected near the telephone exchange and the panchayat office. However, a thorough search dispelled all fear. The police had cordoned off the entire school campus and students of both the primary and secondary sections were sent home. Even shops located near the institution were told to down shutters.
By noon, Tripurari, the Jalpaiguri superintendent of police, R. Thayagraju, the deputy inspector-general of police, Jalpaiguri division, and Meena had arrived at the spot.
All the four bombs, containing almost 5 kg of explosives, were defused by 1.30 pm. The explosives did not go off because of a loose connection, experts maintained.
Meghnath Saha, a senior member of the bomb squad, said: “Had they gone off, they would have not only damaged the school and the police camp, but also nearby establishments.”