NEW DELHI: At a time when the United States is witnessing agencies like the TSA ordering patting down of Sikhs’ turbans ostensibly to check any hidden explosives and young Americans are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan trying to pre-empt any situation which can take a toll on American lives, the country’s energies could have been more gainfully employed if it had kept a better eye on the way India administers its explosive manufacturing facilities and store houses.It seems tons and tons of explosives are being pilfered from Indian explosive manufacturing facilities and the likelihood of much of this stuff finding its way to terror capsules across the world is very high. In the past, experts have often pointed out to the proclivity of the police forces in India at planting explosives and arms on innocent citizens and then killing them in cold blood.
In a rather explosive reportage, The Indian Express newspaper in India has reported last Sunday about the kind of data the office of the Chief Controller of Explosives in Nagpur is sitting on about the colossal theft and diversion of explosives from the over 21,000 licensed explosive manufacturers across the country.
In just two years, 2004-2006, the stuff stolen includes 86,899 detonators, 20,150 kg of slurry explosives, 52,740 metres of detonating fuse and 419 kg of gelatin sticks besides huge quantities of explosive cartridges and boosters. There is no record of what has landed in whose hands and tracing back the arms used by terrorists anywhere in the country or the world becomes an impossible task.
Even earlier, the silence on the free diversion of substances like potassium chlorate and ammonium nitrate, which used in conjunction with sulphur and fuel oil acquire explosive proportions, has been deafening. Explosive heists have been reported in Kolkata, Rourkela, Vadodara, Bhopal and Vellore.
The Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization has said shortage of staff was a reason why just about a fourth of the manufacturing units could be inspected last year. It is surprising how a country can claim to be part of the war on terror and remain so callous. India has so far not even applied the IT sector digital technology in the record-keeping of explosives.