Wednesday, May 19, 2010

20-tonne Maoist-bound ammunition consignment seized in UP town

Aditya Kaul/DNA

New Delhi: A massive 20-tonne consignment of ammunition from the US, which appears to have a strong terror imprint, has been seized in Loni, Uttar Pradesh, by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI).

The consignment seized at Inland Container Depot had seven more containers carrying lead, an important raw material used to manufacture ammunition. Import of lead is prohibited in India.

The containers are believed to have been sourced from US war surpluses. They have been moved to a secluded place in Loni as there is fear that they might contain live grenades and other explosives.

It’s not just the size of the consignment that has alarmed security agencies. There is strong suspicion that the delivery had a terror address. Security agencies claimed there was credible intelligence linking the cache to Maoists.

“We cannot share much at the moment. The matter is under investigation. Several security agencies, including the Uttar Pradesh [UP] Police special task force [STP], DRI, Central Reserve Police Force and the Intelligence Bureau, are on the job,” a senior officer involved in the probe told DNA.

“The consignment has not been fully explored yet. At first, we had found used cartridges, but as we started digging deeper we found a large quantity of live cartridges. That is when we stopped. The bomb disposal squad and other security agencies have been apprised of the situation and they are carrying out an assessment,” said an officer involved in the probe.

According to investigation details accessed by DNA, the consignment had been wrongly declared copper scrap and was bound for Punjab-based businessman KL Chawla. Apparently, the exporter from the US is Chawla’s son-in-law Vicky Chawla.
DRI or other security agencies have not been able to speak to Chawla Senior yet. He is reported to have got admitted to the intensive care unit of a private hospital in Delhi.

On April 30, the UP STF had arrested some CRPF and state police personnel supplying arms and ammunition to Maoists. Investigation into the scandal revealed the personnel were claiming replenishment from the government by showing used cartridges and ammunition.

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