Monday, July 20, 2009

Giridih firm suspect in explosives haul

SHAHNAWAZ AKHTAR AND RAJ KUMAR

Giridih/Ranchi, July 19: A special task force today unearthed alarming quantities of explosives from the storeroom of a construction firm in Giridih, a hotbed of Naxalite activity, while the Ranchi police arrested one person for providing logistic support to rebels.

The double shocker comes within days of the arrest of two persons — one, a New Delhi businessman, and the other the manager of a construction company — for allegedly arming the CPI(Maoist) with latest communication gadgets.

Referring to what is being billed the largest explosive haul in recent times, Giridih superintendent of police A.V. Minz said the raid, conducted late last night at Progressive Construction Limited (PCL) in Bagoder, yielded 1,964kg of gelatine and 15,000m of fuse wire. A Bagoder police station officer said the explosives were stored in more than 50 boxes inside the room. Storekeeper Mahesh Madela has been arrested.

In Ranchi, police arrested 40-year-old Firdaus, a resident of Hindpiri, last evening. A 9mm pistol, two mobile phones, four SIM cards and Rs 2,400 were found on him.

Superintendent of police (city) A. Vijayalaxmi said Firdaus had confessed to his association with members of the CPI(Maoist) and had provided the police vital clues on explosives stored in Giridih. “Firdaus is an explosives supplier active in the Bundu and Tamar areas of the district. “Besides explosives, he also supplied shoes and uniforms purchased from city stores,” she added.

Minz said Firduas had confessed his links with the Kundan Pahan squad. Based on his interrogation, the PCL premises were raided, he added.

The possible involvement of PCL, which is building the four-lane GT Road from Atka, Bagoder to Barwaddah, Dhanbad, has set off alarm bells in security circles.

“PCL officials said the explosives were to be used for making roads. But they could furnish papers for just 450kg of gelatine and 1,500m fuse wire. They also showed four invoices of the same date,” Minz said. The project manager of PCL, K.B.R. Rao, could not be contacted.

Both the Ranchi and Giridih police linked the recent developments to the recovery of wireless gadgets, sent from New Delhi to Ranchi, from the cargo office of an airline. The arrest of two arms suppliers in Calcutta may also fit into the puzzle, they said.

Vijayalaxmi said Firdaus was in charge of paying bills of mobile phones belonging to high-profile rebel leaders such as Pahan, David, Ali and Bhakti. “We have forwarded him to Birsa Munda Central Jail,” the city SP said.

Firdaus, however, denied all allegations. “The 9mm pistol does not belong to me. I have been falsely implicated in the case,” he said, while being escorted away to a police vehicle.

Meanwhile, New Delhi-based businessman Praveen Sharma, arrested from the national capital for supplying communication gadgets to rebels has also been forwarded to Birsa Munda Central Jail. He will be in judicial custody till July 29.

Like Firdaus, Sharma, too, stressed that he was being falsely implicated by the state police. “Many people buy gadgets from my Palika Bazaar shop. I supplied a consignment to one Naresh Sharma of Ranchi after receiving an order over the telephone. He had ordered earlier, too. But I had no idea what they were for,” Sharma said.

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