Customs finds uranium in a bus in Birbhum; “Uranium 100/100; code number 001, date of manufacture 1999, date of expiry 2023, weight 1 pound, made in USA”
(Indian Express) Being alerted beforehand that a consignment of explosives might be on its way to India, the Customs department here seized a leather jacket which they claims contained 450 grams of uranium.
Customs officials had been keeping a close watch on all buses running on the Behrampore-Rampurhat and Nalhati belt — the targetted route. On Thursday, a Customs team intercepted a bus at Nalhati in Birbhum and recovered the unusual consignment. The bus had left Barakar in Burdwan, which is close to the Bengal-Bihar border, at 3 am and was on its way to Jangipur in Murshidabad, which is close to the Indo-Bangla border.
The uranium was well wrapped in a 12 inch by 12 inch leather jacket which had these words embossed on it: “Uranium 100/100; code number 001, date of manufacture 1999, date of expiry 2023, weight 1 pound, made in USA”. The packet was kept in a suitcase placed on a bunk.
The ironed out edges and the perfect finish of the leather jacket suggests it might have been imported. Customs officials said it was quite likely there was a lead lining inside. Officers have informed their Kolkata office about the haul and also the Bhaba Atomic Research Centre. A team of BARC officials are on their way to inspect the uranium. As of now, the package has been kept in a cupboard at the Customs preventive unit office in Nalhati.
There were 35 passengers on board when the bus was intercepted. They all disembarked and dispersed. No one took the suitcase with him. Customs officials have detained the driver and the conductor instead for possible leads. During interrogation, they were unable to shed any light on who might have brought the suitcase into the bus.
Customs officials said the consignment could be a part of an international racket. However, the Director of the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics Bikash Sinha reserved his opinion on the matter. “I cannot comment until I examine the box,” he said.
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