Eight bombs were found on the Ambala-Delhi rail track near Shahbad Markanda station, 25 km from Kurukshetra, on Wednesday, disrupting rail traffic in the region. A search is on for two bombs that are still missing.
Kurukshetra district police chief Simardeep Singh told Hindustan Times that seven 51-mm mortar shells were found on the track around 9.30am and traffic on the route was halted as a precautionary measure. The eighth bomb was found near an olive green metal ammunition box recovered from the track in Shahbad Markanda’s Ranjit Singh Nagar locality in the afternoon.TWO MISSING BOMBS
An abandoned ammunition box of mortar shells found near railway track near Shahbad on Wednesday afternoon. HT Photo
Police sources said that an ammunition box contains 10 mortar shells and two were missing till the filing of this report. The police and army have launched a massive “sanitisation operation” near Shahbad Markanda to look for the two bombs. Of the seven mortar shells found in the morning, six were packed in small, black cases with details of the explosives.
“It is quite possible that during a defence forces movement in the northern region, the box fell off a train. Though eight bombs have been recovered, teams are combing the entire area for the two that are missing,” said a police source engaged in the search operation.
“It is important to confirm that no more bombs are found abandoned around the railway track. If they land in untrained hands, it could prove to be lethal,” the source said on condition of anonymity.
SHELLS USED BY PARAMILITARY TOO: ARMY
A reliable source in the army’s Chandimandir-based Western Command said, “It is not confirmed who this ammunition belonged to yet. These mortar shells are also being used by the paramilitary forces. Right now, the police are investigating the case. They will check the lot number from the ordnance factory and find out to whom this lot was issued. If it belongs to the army, we will check who has the deficient stock. Only then can the responsibility be fixed.”
Superintendent of police Simardeep Singh said the services of a bomb disposal squad were requisitioned from Ambala in the morning. The experts took the seven bombs away from the track by noon before army experts examined the explosives.
Police sources said they had no intimation or complaint from the army about the bombs going missing.
The nearby city of Ambala has an army cantonment and also an Indian Air Force base. The SP said that the army authorities had been called in from Ambala to verify the explosives.
“It is important to verify the source of the explosive material. It is too early to connect the seizure with an attempt of sabotage,” he said.
The bombs were first noticed by the railway authorities at 9.30am and the police were informed. The police cordoned off the area and traffic on the Ambala-Delhi section was suspended for nearly two hours. The government railway police (GRP) sanitised the area and traffic was allowed to resume after 11.30 am.
Nearly 10 trains on the Ambala-Delhi route, including the Delhi-Kalka Shatabdi Express, Shan-e-Punjab, Bathinda Intercity Express and Sachkhand Express, were late by more than two hours due to the incident.
(With inputs by Bhartesh Thakur from Chandimandir)