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NSG smells sabotage as Army finds more rockets

Ghaziabad, October 2
At least 18 more rockets were found today as the Army, called in by the UP Government following the state experts' inability to handle the huge quantity of explosives, continued to scour through truck-loads of scrap from Iran, two days after an explosion killed 10 persons and injured eight at a factory here.

National Security Guard officials, Major K. K. Gauri and Captain Viresh Sharma, who visited the factory did not rule out sabotage.

Major Gauri said, "it is a serious matter and needs serious attention from all authorities concerned with national security."

Senior Superintendent of Police Jai Narain Singh said the size of the rockets indicated they belonged to Iran army as the explosives measuring one m to 1.25 m were used by them.

With 43 shells already recovered from the scrap, a team of Army's explosive experts were engaged in the task of scanning eight truck-loads of material for the explosives.

So far, only two trucks had been unloaded and scanned in an isolated area, along the Hindon river, which has been sealed upto a kilometre, officials said.

The Army personnel found 18 rockets, recovering 25 earlier, District Magistrate Santosh Kumar Yadav said.

The Army experts involved in the task wound up their operation for the day as darkness fell. The work would resume tomorrow.

The police officials said the consignment was the residue of military armament sold by Iran to Bhushan Steel Company as the scrap.

"The scrap included unexploded mortar and rocket shells which were apparently treated as the waste," a senior police official said, adding the sellers apparently did not take care of defusing or exploding the shells which contained gunpowder.

The casualties occurred when such an unexploded shell burst while the first truck was being unloaded, he said.

At least three more shells with the potential for exploding were found in the same truck and these were defused.

The factory, Bhushan Steel Company, has been sealed and two top officials, General Manager V. S. Verma and Assistant General Manager Ompal Singh, who were arrested yesterday on charges of negligence, had been remanded to 14-days judicial custody. The police was worried as to how such an "explosive-filled" scrap could pass through the customs checking at Kandla Port.

More worrisome was the fact that Ghaziabad houses hundreds of factories which receive iron scrap from the overseas, fearing that those also could be containing explosives and another tragedy might take place. PTI

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