Chennai: The discovery of 300 kilograms of explosives has raised concerns about a potential major terrorist attack, particularly given Dharmapuri's known association with Naxal activities. Acting on a specific tip about a paddy truck traveling from Dharmapuri to Coimbatore, Salem police initiated heightened vehicle patrols along national highways. The interception occurred around 2:30 am at the Karuppur toll gate near Salem.
Upon a thorough search of the hay-laden lorry, authorities found over 102 wooden boxes containing more than 30 kilograms of gelatin sticks, electric detonators, and gunpowder, totaling a staggering 2,953 kilograms. Deliberate obliteration of barcodes on the boxes added a layer of mystery to the discovery. The police promptly arrested the lorry’s 32-year-old driver, Ilayaraja.
Senior police officials ordered the relocation of the lorry and its contents to the Salem City Police firing ground for further examination. A team comprising senior police officers, intelligence officials, forensic experts, and Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad personnel conducted a comprehensive examination. The driver, Ilayaraja, claimed innocence, stating that he had been hired to transport hay to Coimbatore and that the lorry was pre-loaded upon his arrival.
Following the driver’s information, police teams were dispatched to Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri to investigate the origin of the explosives en route to Coimbatore. The incident has raised concerns, especially considering a previous explosive incident near Ukkadam at Kottaimedu on October 23, 2022, and the arrest of nine individuals earlier this year in Coimbatore for possession of explosives.
Law enforcement authorities have chosen to remain tight-lipped about the ongoing investigation, citing its sensitive nature. The incident highlights potential security threats posed by the illegal transportation of explosives, urging authorities to maintain vigilance for public safety. However, critics have raised concerns about the allocation of police resources, citing instances like the protection of Udhayanidhi Stalin on his birthday and road clearances for ministerial convoys as examples of misplaced priorities.
The Q branch police suspect that the large quantities of explosives, lacking proper documentation, could be intended for significant sabotage activities. The Intelligence Bureau (IB) had issued alerts ahead of the 2024 elections, warning of potential attacks. Notably, a notification from the Central government dated September 29, 2023, prohibits the manufacture, possession, and import of electric detonators nationwide, effective April 1, 2025. Restrictions on the use, stock, and sale of detonators to quarry owners aim to prevent them from falling into the hands of anti-national elements.
Calls have emerged for the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe the 3,000-kilogram explosives seizure to trace its roots. Some individuals have pointed out that Al Umma founder and Coimbatore serial blasts main convict SA Basha was on a three-month bail on health grounds when the seizure occurred, raising further questions about potential connections.As investigations unfold, the focus is on unraveling the motives behind this massive explosives haul and ensuring that comprehensive measures are in place to safeguard national security.