A scrap vendor died and two of his relatives injured during an explosion at their shop in Maral Nagar on the Katraj Kondhwa road on Tuesday morning. Police have recovered an “old bomb shell” from the spot.
Police suspect the explosion could have taken place when scrap vendors hammered the shell to retrieve metal from it. Investigation is underway to find out how the scrap vendor managed to get this bomb shell.
Indian Army officials are also probing how the bomb shell moved out to scrap instead of being disposed properly.
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The police have identified the deceased as Nizamuddin Aslam Choudhary (19), resident of Kondhwa. Those injured include his cousin Ismail Mustafa Choudhary (18) and Asim Mohammed Badulla Choudhary (66). Both have received severe injuries, particularly on their face, and have been admitted to private hospitals.
Investigation so far has revealed that the Choudhary family, natives of Uttar Pradesh, has been living in Pune for over a decade. They had taken a small tin-shed on rent in Maral Nagar. They collected scrap and sold it.
Family members reportedly told the police that Nizamuddin, who died in the incident, brought the explosive-looking like an old bomb shell while collecting scrap in Undri and Pisoli area on Tuesday morning. Around 10.30 am, he hammered the shell, causing an explosion. Nizamuddin received major injuries on chest and died. Asim received injury on his eyes.
After receiving information, teams of Pune city police, state’s anti-terrorism squad (ATS), bomb detection and disposal squad (BDDS) and fire brigade rushed to the spot.
Additional commissioner of police Prakash Muttyal, deputy commissioner Sudhir Hiremath, assistant commissioner Swapna Gore and other senior officials visited the place.
Police suspect that the scrap vendors were not aware it was a live unexploded shell. Police said the explosion created a seven-inch deep hole at the spot.
Meanwhile, BDDS sleuths collected samples from the spot.
Sameer Shaikh, station officer of Fire Brigade, said, “When we reached, there was no fire. The explosion had caused damage to persons and property.”
Senior police inspector Rajendra Mokashi said, “The cause of explosion is not confirmed yet. It would be known only after reports from forensic experts and Army come in. For now, we are lodging an offence of negligence and under Explosives Act in this case. How the shell was found and brought at the scrap shop is being investigated.”
Sources said the Army had taken the matter seriously because there are norms and proper procedure for disposing such shells.
Similar explosion in 2009
In December 2009, a scrap dealer, Shivaji Maruti Bhanjawde (50), had died when a mortar shell he was apparently hammering exploded at his residence at Rajiv Gandhi Nagar on Dehu Road area of Pune. Five others were injured in the incident. Police suspected that Bhanjawde collected some old mortar shells from the firing range around Dehu Road area to retrieve aluminium, of which one was live.
Some residents of Rajiv Gandhi Nagar area were known to be collecting shells and metal objects from the firing ranges, retrieve aluminium from it and sell.