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Bokaro ‘uranium’ seizure: Cops drop Atomic Energy Act charges, invoke forgery, conspiracy provisions

More than two months after seven people were arrested on suspicion of “possessing and planning to sell mineral uranium” in Jharkhand's Bokaro district, a city court will hear the bail plea of one of the accused on Wednesday.

Written by Abhishek Angad | Bokaro |
Updated: August 11, 2021 7:22:30 am
UP Police, UP police attack, Bulandshahr, Bulandshahr police attack, Uttar Pradesh news, Indian expressPolice said they had received complaints from both sides and had filed FIRs.

More than two months after seven people were arrested on suspicion of “possessing and planning to sell mineral uranium” in Jharkhand’s Bokaro district, a city court will hear the bail plea of one of the accused on Wednesday.

This will be Bapi Chandra’s third attempt to secure bail, and the first after police filed the chargesheet in the case.

Incidentally, the police have dropped provisions related to the Atomic Energy Act from the chargesheet they filed on July 31, indicating that the seized material was not uranium.

Chandra’s latest bail plea, filed through his lawyer S P Singh, says, “The petitioner is in jail without any evidence… That the investigating officer after examination found that the same is not uranium he has to submit final report in this case but by wrong interpretation submitted chargesheet under wrong sections.”

All the accused are in judicial custody since their arrest on June 3.

The Bokaro police filed the chargesheet on the basis of the “confession of the accused” and other evidences and charged all seven of them with forgery, criminal breach of trust, criminal conspiracy among others.

The chargesheet said: “…a case was registered against nine accused [two could not be arrested] who in a conspiracy were in possession of nuclear energy material. With the statement of all accused and the witnesses, report of the seized material collected, and call detail records of all accused collected and after the investigation, a case of IPC Sections 467 [forgery of valuable security, will], 468 [forgery for purpose of cheating), 406 (punishment for criminal breach of trust), 414 (whoever voluntarily assists in concealing or disposing of or making away with property which he knows or has reason to believe to be stolen property], 120 B [Criminal Conspiracy], 420 [Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property] is made out and is submitted to the court.”

The court is yet to take the cognizance of the chargesheet.

The police dropped from their chargesheet IPC Section 34 (common intention of all accused), and provisions of the Atomic Energy Act, which were mentioned in the FIR.

On June 3, the police had announced seizure of 6.4 kg of “uranium mineral” from two of the accused who were arrested along with five others.

However, on June 10, the Ministry of External Affairs in a statement said: “The Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India, after due evaluation and laboratory analysis of the material sample has stated that the material seized last week is not uranium and not radioactive.” The statement was a response to Pakistan Foreign Ministry’s remarks for a probe into the “seizure of nuclear material”.

When asked about the grounds on which the arrests were made, Bokaro SP Chandan Jha had then told The Indian Express: “Then why did all seven accused lie to the police. The investigation is continuing.”

Police sources said the accused were under the impression that the material they had was uranium.

In July, bail pleas of all seven accused were rejected by the Judicial Magistrate as well as an Additional Sessions Judge.

Lawyer Birendra Prasad, who represented accused Mahavir Mahato, said: “The court’s order was based on the fact that the police in their case diary did not mention that the seized material was not uranium. Hence, the court rejected the bail even though the material was not uranium, as it was also announced by the MEA.”

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