The huge cache of explosives seized by the Ranchi police on Saturday has opened a can of worries for the Jharkhand police, as the consignment has been traced to the Government Ordnance Factory at Wardha, Maharashtra.
The seizure holds special significance, since this has been the first occasion when the Maoists' link with Maharashtra to procure explosives has been exposed. So far, the Maoists in Jharkhand were found procuring explosives through different means from the Central Coalfields Ltd (CCL), and from the local crusher operators.
"The seized explosives were found good enough to plant over 100 lethal landmines in Jharkhand. This was also the intent of the Maoists, who got the materials transported from Wardha through a Bihar-based conduit," Ranchi SSP Manvinder Singh Bhatia told HT on Tuesday.
"In fact, in terms of fuse wires and the detonators, the seized explosives could have done a bigger damage," Bhatia said. The recovered haul included 6,460 pieces of gelatin sticks besides 12,500 meter long safety fuse wire and 2,000 pieces of electronic detonators.
"The Ranchi police will send a team to Wardha to check the factory's records including the inventories of the registered buyers to get to the bottom of the explosive traders," Bhatia said.
"The Ranchi police also want to procure the list of the explosive buyers, and the network will be crosschecked by a special team," said an officer.
Similarly, a separate team is to be sent to Bihar from where a middleman is said to have channelled the explosives to Jharkhand.
The police, however, concede that the biggest bottleneck is the fact that the recovered gelatine sticks do not have batch numbers punched on them, and this may hamper the investigations because without them the factory cannot provide pinpointed information about the particular buyer.
A State Home Department official said the department may also take up the issue with its counterparts in Maharashtra and in the Union Government to make the Ordnance Factory see reasons.
There are also suggestions to introduce a liquid-based explosive and on-the-site mixing of the components to prepare it, a senior IPS officer said. "In fact, the coal companies have also agreed to phase out the stick-based gelatine explosives. This, however, is a long term solution," the officer added.
Besides, there are suggestions to mix the substance with a strong odour into the explosive substances. "This would be handy both for the sniffer dogs as well as for the police personnel to trace the unauthorised stacking of explosive materials," said an officer.