The Ministry of Home Affairs has put on hold a request by the UP government to hand over the PETN probe to the NIA after conflicting reports have emerged about the nature of the substance. On July 12, 150 gm of a powdery substance was found under the seat of Samajwadi Party MLA Manoj Singh in the UP Assembly. That the substance was PETN, a plastic explosive, was declared by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath a day after.
Sources said the ministry will transfer the case to the NIA only after it receives a forensic report from the state on the nature of the material. The state government had recommended an NIA probe into the matter and has sent the request to the Union home ministry. The ministry, however, has not transferred the case to NIA yet.
“There are conflicting reports about the nature of the material found in the UP Assembly. The state government has insisted it is PETN. However, their assertion is based on preliminary findings of a Lucknow lab. We will wait for a proper forensic report, which the state government has said it will send soon, before taking a decision on whether to transfer the case to NIA,” a ministry official said. He said in case the material was found not to be an explosive, the case would not be sent to the NIA and be closed.
Asking for an NIA probe into the episode, Adityanath had said in the Assembly, “Can we allow anyone to compromise the security of 403 MLAs? This is PETN, this is a dangerous substance. It will be revealed who is behind this. Police verification should be conducted of every security personnel.”
The next day, the state principal secretary (home) sent a request to the Union home ministry for an investigation. But media reports suggested that a test conducted in an Agra lab had found that the material was not PETN.
The government denied this, saying that the material was never sent to any Agra lab for testing.
The principal secretary (home) in his address to the media had said that state Forensic Science Laboratory (SFSL) in Lucknow in its report had found the substance as water insoluble. Different reagents confirmed the presence of a nitrate and a preliminary test conducted using an explosive detection kit reported positive for PETN, the official said, adding that several tests were done in Lucknow and a report would come out soon.