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6 kg illegal uranium caught once more in India

Chandan Jha, the Superintendent of Police (SP), Bokaro confirmed to media that an FIR has been registered against the seven accused for sale and purchase of uranium, and they have been sent to jail.

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Indian police have arrested 7 men for illegally possessing 6.4 kg of uranium. This is the second time within a month that unauthorized personnel in India have been found with uranium, a material crucial for nuclear production.

According to Indian media, the incident occurred in the eastern state of Jharkhand in Bokaro district.

Chandan Jha, the Superintendent of Police (SP), Bokaro confirmed to media that an FIR has been registered against the seven accused for sale and purchase of uranium, and they have been sent to jail. An investigation is also underway to find out how the men procured the mineral. Also, the seized uranium has been sent to Forensic Science Laboratory.

One of the accused, Bapi Dutta, a resident of Chas, Jharkhand told ANI that under the pretext of selling a diamond, the main gangster, who supplied this mineral had asked them to sell it for about Rs 15 – Rs 20 lakh.

“I got in contact with the main supplier through one of the accused. He had taken Rs 30,000 for me saying that it is a diamond and I was supposed to sell it further for Rs 15 – Rs 20 lakh. We did not know what it was. We just got to know it is uranium,” Dutta claimed.

Read More: India’s uranium seizure raises serious questions as FATF & IAEA remain tight-lipped

Not the first time

Recently, Indian police seized over seven kilograms of natural uranium from two men in the western Maharashtra state of India for illegally possessing the substance.

According to the anti-terrorism squad in Maharashtra, the confiscated material is worth around $2.9 million.

The case was registered under the Atomic Energy Act, 1962 against both the accused including 27-year-old Jigar Jayesh Pandya and 31-year-old Abu Tahir Afzal Hussain Choudhary after a report from the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Mumbai confirmed that the seized material was highly radioactive.

The recent cases emerged within a span of one month, however, in 2016 as well; Indian police seized almost 9kg of depleted uranium in the Thane area of Maharashtra.

Read More: Who would account for India for its uranium black market

Such frequent incidents raise serious concerns over India’s nuclear security and safety as authorities call for investigations into the gaps which made such security breach possible.

On 8th May, Pakistan’s Foreign Office Spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said. “We have noted with serious concern the reports about the seizure of more than 7kg natural uranium from unauthorized persons in India.”

“Security of nuclear materials should be the top priority for all countries,” Chaudhry said.

“There is a need for a thorough investigation of the matter as to how such sizeable quantity of uranium could become available outside any state control and identify the gaps which made this possible,” he added.

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