WITH LITTLE information on who tipped off sleuths from the Mumbai Police Crime Branch regarding a huge cache of RDX found abandoned in a dilapidated structure near the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway in October 2016, investigators are yet to make any headway in the case on who stored the explosives or why.
In a joint operation carried out by the Mumbai Police Crime Branch and the Maharashtra ATS, sleuths recovered around 18 kg of explosives off the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway on October 27, 2016. As many as 40 gelatin sticks, 39 detonators, two packets of ammonium nitrate and some “black substance and powder” — which was later confirmed as RDX by the FSL — were recovered from Gaon Satavli in Palghar. The cache was found stored underneath the first floor of the ruined structure. Working on a specific lead, a joint operation was carried out and explosives were recovered.
Following the recovery, the ATS registered a case against unknown persons under Section 4 (Punishment for attempt to cause explosion, or for making or keeping explosive with intent to endanger life or property) and 5 (Punishment for making or possessing, explosives under suspicious circumstances) of the Explosive Substances Act.
During the course of the investigation, the ATS tried to ascertain the purpose of hiding such a large consignment underneath a floor. “We were told that the information was first received by the DGP office through a letter sent via post. The letter was subsequently sent to the Mumbai police and after doing the initial vetting, the Crime Branch found substance in the information. The ATS was also roped in, but till date the informant remains a mystery. The Crime Branch, which did the initial probe, was apprehensive in sharing the details of the informant. With little information on who could be the possible group behind the cache, the case has hit a dead end,” said an ATS official.
“The questioning of the informant will help us do a backward tracking and forward linking, thereby getting clarity on the outfit and the purpose,” added the official. RDX is an explosive nitroamine widely used in military and industrial applications. In India, the Defence Ministry regulates the production and use of RDX.
“One of the angles we are probing is the possible involvement of the Indian Mujahideen, with the cache hidden by its active members or those part of its sleeper module for future assignments. The structure being dilapidated and off a national highway may serve as a safe haven. Also the FSL report stated that the explosives were not new and may be a few years old. Last time RDX was used in a terror act in the state was during the 2006 Mumbai train blasts,” said an official.
The other angle was that the Khandwa SIMI module responsible for carrying out a low-intensity IED blast in the parking lot of the Faraskhana police station in Pune, near the famous Dagdusheth Halwai Ganesh Temple in July 2014, could be responsible, added the official. “The five accused had fled from the Tantya Bheel Jail in Khandwa town of Madhya Pradesh in October 2013. They were subsequently gunned down in two encounters,” said the official.