West Bengal's dirty bombs: What the Midnapore investigation reveals

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New Delhi, May 8: A 1000 kilograms of explosives is no joke. Whether these explosives were meant to scare or kill is not the point and the investigations into the Midnapore firecracker unit blast which left nearly 17 dead. Out of this 12 were in the age group of 10 and 17. The West Bengal government has a lot to answer.

Read more: Midnapore blast: The dark side of illegal firecracker units

Several discrepancies have emerged and a pertinent question is whether the political connections that Ranjan Maity the owner of the plant helped him carry on with his alleged crimes.

What Midnapore investigation reveals?

For starters his factory was illegal and more importantly he had employed children in the age group of 10 and 17. Fine fingers of the children is what makes them so important to fire cracker units. Fine and small fingers help fill up the smaller crackers.

1000 kilos of explosives sourced illegally:

The scene of the incident was horrific. Body parts strewn all over and the impact so huge that it brought down the roofs of some houses. According to Inspector General of Police S N Gupta, there were 1000 kilograms of explosives at the unit.

Investigtors are trying to find out the source of the explosives. It can be said that these explosives were sourced illegally. The very fact that the factory did not have a permit to operate makes everything about it illegal.

The other question is what were these explosives used for. It has been found that there was a high demand for firecrackers as the marriage season was on. The other point is that there was high demand for bombs without shrapnel during the recently concluded civic polls. During the recently concluded elections incidents of bombs without shrapnel being hurled had come to light and it is suspected that they were all sources from such illegal firecracker units.

The bombs without shrapnel are highest in demand during the elections in West Bengal. Political parties battle on the streets with bombs. However these are bombs without shrapnel which means they are meant to scare and not kill.

The illegal child racket:
What is worse is that the owner of the unit had employed all children at his unit. All these children were brought in from Murdhidabad. Their parents who are in dire straits and in need of finances were assured that their children would be employed at construction sites.

While the offence of Child Labour begins here, it only gets worse as these children in reality were taken to fire cracker units. Children are not only cheaper to employ, but their tiny fingers provide an amount of finesse when the smaller bombs are being filled up with the explosive material.

Villagers are extremely angry:
The local administration was completely ignoring the pleas made by the villagers. They had complained to the police and also the district administration on several occasions about this illegal unit only to be received by deaf ears.

It was expected that the villagers would get even more angry after this incident and this time around the police had to rope in the Rapid Action Force to disperse the crowd which had gathered in protest.

The villagers swear that this man Maity is politically well connected and has been supplying crude bombs to political parties. He has been making crude bombs, the villagers say. We have complained several times about the danger of this unit and see what has happened now, the villagers also told the police.

The villagers also alleged that when they had approached Maity and complained, he had point blank told them that he enjoys support of the police. He was very often seen along with some 20 persons who regularly came and picked up the explosives in a van. In this regard the villagers had also submitted a written complaint the authorities.

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