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NIA takes over uranium haul case

A source said during questioning, Chaudhary told the ATS that around six years ago, his father had received this substance in scrap and they didn’t know what the substance was. They had, however, kept the substance with them assuming that it was of some value.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
Updated: May 9, 2021 9:12:39 pm
On Saturday in pursuance of order of MHA, Government of India, NIA has re-registered the case under section 24(1)(a) of the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, which was registered by the Maharashtra ATS. (File Photo/Representational)

THE NATIONAL Investigation Agency has taken over the uranium haul case in which the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) had seized 7.1kg of natural uranium, approximately valued at Rs 21.3 crore, from two persons.

“On Saturday, in pursuance of the order of the MHA, Government of India, the NIA has re- registered the case under Section 24(1) (a) of the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, which was registered by the Maharashtra ATS. Pursuant to registration of the case, requisite actions as per law for expeditious investigation of case have been initiated. Both of them were arrested by the Maharashtra ATS,” said an NIA officer.

The Maharashtra ATS on May 5 arrested two accused – Jigar Jayesh Pandya (27) and Abu Tahir Afzal Choudhary (31) – from Mumbai for allegedly possessing the natural uranium and attempting to sell it. Both the accused were sent to ATS custody till May 12. The duo will be handed over to the NIA for further probe.

A source said during questioning, Chaudhary told the ATS that around six years ago, his father had received this substance in scrap and they didn’t know what the substance was. They had, however, kept the substance with them assuming that it was of some value.

They tried to find out what the substance is exactly but couldn’t until they showed it to Pandya, who also got it tested through his contact and identified it as uranium.

“Chaudhary told us that they had stored it in their factory and when they came to know that the substance has high demand in the international market and is costly, they decided to sell it. His father has also given the police the same statement and told us that they didn’t know the exact use of it,” said a source.

In February this year, the ATS had received information that Pandya was looking for a potential buyer to sell the uranium. The official had then posed as a customer, met Pandya and took a sample from him.

On questioning him, Pandya revealed that he got the sample from Chaudhary, who was also questioned by the police and the substance was seized and a sample of the same was sent to Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC). BARC on Wednesday, in its report, said the material sent was natural uranium, which was highly radioactive.

Following the report, a case under the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, was filed for possessing uranium without licence and both of them were arrested by the police.

The duo were later placed under arrest on Wednesday.

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