A day after a van laden with detonators went missing in Chhattisgarh's restive Bastar region, police said on Monday that the van had been recovered but the detonators were looted by the unidentified people who had hijacked the vehicle.
The Mahindra Max pickup van that had 2,500 detonators went missing Sunday on the way from Mandir Hasod on Raipur's outskirts to an iron-ore mine in Kirandul in Dantewada region.
"The van was recovered early Monday in a forested area but the detonators are missing," Inspector General of Police (Bastar) TJ Longkumer told IANS.
The van driver claims that Maoist militants had hijacked the vehicle from Sonarpal village on National Highway 43 in Bastar district and took it to a forested area. The rebels allegedly off-loaded all the detonators and then let off the driver.
"We doubt the driver's claim and are interrogating him," said Longkumer.
The hijacked van was one of two hired by a Dantewada-based private mining company to blast rocks of the Bailadila hills for extraction of iron ore.
Police have set up several search squads, and all entry and exit points of Bastar district have been sealed in a bid to recover the detonators.
Police sources said Maoists mostly use detonators to set up landmines in Chhattisgarh.
Over 90 per cent of the about 1,500 people who have died in Maoist violence since the state came into existence in November 2000 were victims of landmine blasts.