To prevent the usage of ammonium nitrate in making IEDs, the home ministry is working on tagging the industrially manufactured fertiliser with inert chemicals, so the source can be traced if the compound is used in future bomb blasts.
A favourite of the Indian Mujahideen, ammonium nitrate has been used in a majority of the terror blasts in India since 2005, claiming nearly 500 victims. It was last used in the July 13, 2011 serial blasts in Mumbai.
In a high-level meeting last week, chaired by home secretary RK Singh, a number of decisions were taken in principle to control the use of commercial explosives and triggers in terror attacks by jihadist groups and Maoists rebels. The meeting was attended by representatives of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Intelligence Bureau.
It was decided in the meeting that stocks of ammonium nitrate manufacturers would be checked monthly by area district magistrates or superintendents of police to ensure that there is no pilferage of the chemical , or diversion during transportation. It was agreed that the manufacturing company would be held accountable under the Indian Explosive Act if such incidents take place. As it is 45% pure, ammonium nitrate is deemed as an explosive under the Act.
DIPP sources said while there was a suggestion that ammonium nitrate bags be tagged so they could be traced to the original manufacturer, Singh was in favour of introducing an inert chemical of different strength or colour into each bag of ammonium nitrate. This would not only deter terrorists but also help in police investigations.
The other decision was to explore the possibility of increasing the timing of commercially available triggers to give paramilitary forces a fighting chance against IEDs in areas infested by Left Wing Extremists.