Siliguri, Aug. 25: Two policemen driving to an Indian Oil depot near the New Jalpaiguri station with explosives in their Maruti were caught early this morning, but not before they had planted bombs in two petrol pumps.
An alert night guard at one of the pumps and a sub-inspector returning home from work helped avert disaster by spotting the bombs planted by the two constables of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and their two accomplices, police said.
The four men, travelling in a grey Maruti van, first went to the petrol pumps at Air View More, a busy intersection on Hill Cart Road, around 2 am. One bomb was planted at the Tolaram Omprakash Gidra petrol pump of Bharat Petroleum and four were planted at the adjacent Five Star pump, an outlet of Indian Oil. Two of these bombs were kept in a briefcase, the police said.
The men then made their way to the Indian Oil depot, 6 km away.
But a patrol team near the depot intercepted the men and, not getting a satisfactory explanation for their presence, searched the vehicle and found three explosive devices wrapped in plastic, four gela- tin sticks, a watch, gunpowder, cement, chocolate bombs, electric wires and brick pieces.
The van had two registration numbers, the visible plate WB-77 2278 covered another, WB-74-H-1347.
The presence of constables Biswajit Majumder and Kailash Roy, both in their mid- thirties, stunned the police. Majumder, a resident of Pradhannagar in Siliguri, was once nominated for a bravery award.
The other two in the vehicle were Paritosh Roy and driver Purna Biswakarma, both Siliguri residents.
The police raided the homes of the four men and found a large quantity of material used to make explosives, including gunpowder.
An embarrassed police brass initially sought to brush aside the involvement of the CID constables.
“They wanted to create panic and it was a hoax,” said inspector-general (north Bengal) K.L. Meena.
But bomb experts Meghnad Saha and Milan Saha, who led the team that defused the five devices, said the explosives could have caused widespread damage in the town that is the gateway to the Northeast.
Meena later said his men would be kept under observation to find out “if any of them are involved with any anti-national or banned outfit”.
“I am here to look into what charges would be pressed against them (the constables). The extent of their involvement is beyond doubt,” said deputy inspector-general of police (special), CID, P. Ravi.
Meena pointed a finger at the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation. “Similar material was used in the bomb planted at a high school in Salkumarhat on August 14,” he said.
Jalpaiguri police had suspected KLO involvement in the aborted plot.