- More than 80% of India’s nuclear and missile infrastructure based in the insurgency-hit areas or extremists’ dominated region
- Growing Moist insurgency, Nexal dominance in India’s Red Corridor ring alarm bell across the globe with regard to nuke safety
- The reasons behind fire at India’s top nuke facility further panics global community
- Indian Premier Manmohan Singh still shows the shameless cheeks to express reservations over safety of Pak nukes at Nuclear Summit in US
- 46 world leaders, attending nuke summit having serious reservations about safety of nukes in India
By Makhdoom Babar (Additional reporting by Christina Palmer & Ajay Mehta in New Delhi & Kapil Verma & Priyanka Joshi in Mumbai)
While the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has expressed his reservations over the safety of Pakistan nuclear assets at the 2-day Nuclear Summit being held at US capital Washington and is being attended by 46 world leaders from across globe, he appears to have completely forgotten the actual state of affairs with regard to the safety of India’s own nuclear and missile infrastructure back home, where the situation is highly alarming, reveal the findings of The Daily Mail’s investigations into the matter.
According to The Daily Mail’s investigations, the Indian government, in bid to keep it maximum possible away from the striking capabilities of Pakistan that lies across India’s northern borders, decades back decided to install all its nuclear and missile facilities in the Eastern zone of the country. However, with the passage of time, the eastern region of India emerged as the most disturbed, fragile and ungovernable region of the country with a variety of insurgency movements including that of Naxal rebels, emerging in that very part of the country.
According to a map, graphed by India’s own security agencies, the eastern region and some other parts of the country have been declared as ” The Red Corridor” of India due to being unstable, ungovernable and being highly fragile, security wise. According this “Red Corridor” map, there are some 51 districts that are very badly hit by the rebels while the total number of rebel struck districts remains around 164, ranging from Dehradhun to Kerala.
The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that most of India’s top nuclear and missile facilities are located in the extremely Nexal terrorists struck districts of India, located deep down in the “Red Corridor”.
According to The Daily Mail’s investigations, in the direction of Indian nuclear facilities, Uranium processing plant by the name of Uranium Corporation Of India Limited (UCIL) is located in adversely insurgency and terror struck region of Jharkhand where Nexal guerrillas are dominating and are on the rampage, Talcher Heavy Water Plant again in the same area, Institute of Physics(IOP) again in the same area while Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research(AMD), Ceramatic Fuel Fabrication Facility(CFFF), Electronics Corporation of India Limited(ECIL), Mishra Dhalu Nigam Limited(MIDHANI), National Centre for Compositional Characterization of Materials(NCCCM), New Zirconium Sponge Plant(New ZSP), Nuclear Fuel Complex(NFC), Special Materials Plant, Uranium Fuel Assembly Plant and Zirconium Fabrication Plant, Seha Institute of Nuclear Physics and Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre(VECC) are located in the most Nexal warriors hit areas of Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal. Similarly, Fast Breeder Test Reactor(FBTR), Fast Reactor Fuel Reprocessing Plant (FRFRP) General Services Organization(GSO), Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research(IGCAR), Kalpakkam Atomic Reprocessing Plant(KARP), Kamini Research Reactor, Madres Atomic Power Station (MAPS), Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor(PFBR), Manuguru Heavy Water Plant, Institute of Mathematical Sciences(MSc), Southern Petrochemical Industries Corporation Limited(SPIC), Tuticorin Heavy Water Plant, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited(BHEL), HMT Machine Tools Limited(HMT-MTL), Indian Institutes of Sciences(IISc) and Super Computer Education and Research Centre(SERC) are located in the areas, Indian government has included in the most disturbed Red Corridor while Apsra Research Reactor, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre(BARC), Boron Enrichment Plant(BEP), Central Workshops, Plutonium Reprocessing Plant, Purnima 1,II & III Research Reactors, Uranium Conversion Plant, Uranium Enrichment Plant, CIRUS Research Reactor, Dhruva Research Reactor, Hazira heavy Water Plant, Larson and Toubro, Hazira Water Works, Advanced Fuel Fabrication Facility(AFFF), Tarapur Atomic Power Station(TAPS), Power Reactor Fuel Reprocessing Plant(PREFRE), Beryllium Matching Facility(BMF), Construction Service and Estate Management Group(CSEMG), Directorate of Purchase and Stores(DPS), Heavy Water Board, Tata Institute of Fundamental search(TIFR), Rshtrya Chemicals & Fertilizers (RCF), Thal-Vaishet Heavy Water Plant, Centre for Development of Advanced Computing(C-DAC), Kiroskar Brothers Limited and Walchandnagar Industries Limited(WIL) are located in State of Maharashtra, which, though, is not included in the Red Corridor map of India, yet the whole world knows that Maharashtra is the hub of Extremist Hindu Militant Groups where Hindutva Brotherhood, Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal, Durga Vahini and Sangh Parivar like terrorist organizations are on the rampage for past many years, without any check from authorities and all these Hindu militant organizations are very well known for their extreme anti-Pakistan policies and are full capable of getting hold of any of the Indian nuclear facility that exists in their respective state and region.
The Daily Mail’s investigations further indicate that like the nuclear facilities, India’s maximum missile facilities are also situated in either the Red Corridor or in the areas, dominated by Hindu extremist and militant organizations. These Investigations reveal that out of India’s Missile facilities, Defence Electronics Applications Laboratories (DEAL), Metallurgical & Engineering Consultants Limited, Interim Test Range (ITR), Bharat Dynamics Limited(BDL), Defence Research and Development Laboratory(DRDL), Research Centre Imarat(RCI), Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory(DMRL), Defence Electronics Research Laboratory(DERL), Mishra Dhatu Nigam Limited(MIDHANI), Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), SKM Tools Private Limited, Pantex Gee Bee Fluid Power Limited, Sriharikota High Altitude Range(SHAR), Combat Vehicle Research & Development Establishment(CVRDE), The KCP Limited, Microwave Tube Research & Development Centre(MTRDC), Electronics and Radar Development Establishment(LRDE), Gas Turbine Research Establishment(GTRE), Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), Bharat Electronic Limited(BEL), Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited(HAL), all are situated in the highly disturbed Red Corridor while Terminal Ballistic Research Laboratory(TBRL) and Semi Conductor Complex Limited (SCL) are located in Chandigarh where Six separatists are running the insurgency movement under the banners of Babbar Khalsa group and Storage Site for Pirthvi-1 Ballistic Missile is located in disputed territory of Jammu where Muslim separatists are engaging Indian Army and Air Force for the past many years.
The Daily Mail’s investigations further disclose that around 90% of the Red Corridor areas are just a No Go Zone for the Indian troops and Air Force. In these areas there is no writ of the Indian government nor there is any proper implementation of State laws of India.
The nexal rebels are enjoying full control and keep striking at will. Just recently they killed over a dozen officials of Police and even shot down a chopper of Indian Air Force (IAF). It is also evident from the record of IAF that IAF has now started having commandos, airborne on all IAF chopper sorties in the Red Corridor to protect the choppers from a possible Nexal attack. Similarly the police officials have also advised the politicians and other VIPs to avoid flying over the Red Corridor in chopper and also not to travel in these areas without appropriate security arrangements. The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that even a couple of days back, the Nexal rebels set ablaze three trucks and damaged a bridge in Jharkhand as they began their two-day Jharkhand-Bihar shutdown to protest against the Centre’s alleged effort to put down the CPI(Maoists) movement by force.
The Naxals also bombed railway tracks between Bokaro thermal-Jarandi station. About 12 armed Maoists set fire to three trucks at around !AM in Giridih’s Isri area and cut down trees to block traffic on the Dumri-Giridih road, Giridih Superintendent of police Ravi Kant Dhan told The Daily Mail.
They also partially damaged a road bridge, which connects Dumri to the Grand Trunk Road, using explosives, the police officer said, adding gunshots were also heard in the area. Maoists also pasted posters in Giridih’s Parasnath area despite verytight security arrangements.
To gauge the capabilities of Indian government to safeguard its nuclear and missile arsenal and research and development facilities as well as production infrastructure, The Daily Mail constituted a team of freelance reporters and photographers, based in different parts of India and embarked them on the investigative mission under the command of our Delhi Bureau Chief Christina Palmer. The team was given the test task of exploring the state of affairs at Jharkand which is considered to be hub of India’s nuclear energy programme. See what we discovered.
EAST Singhbhum district in Jharkhand, bordering West Bengal and Orissa, is the capital of India’s nuclear energy programme. It is rich in uranium that is mined by the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) and converted later into nuclear fuel for the reactors. East Singhbhum is also rich in Naxalites who are active in the area and well aware of the mines that produce uranium. Little to no security separates the uranium ore or the processed yellowcake from the Naxalites, who are currently extending their control, with the local administration officials admitting that it is just a matter of time before they strike the mines.
According to Superintendent of police Navin Kumar Singh, “This district is on the list of Naxalite-affected areas. They are making full efforts to gain control over the Jadugoda region. They already have a very strong presence in the adjoining areas of Potka, Dumaria, Dalbhumgarh and Ghatshila.”
The raw uranium from the mines is processed by the UCIL in Jadugoda, a small town located at a distance of 30 km from district headquarters Jamshedpur. This entire region is India’s only source of natural uranium to feed the country’s heavy-water nuclear reactors. According to local officials, of India’s annual requirement of 300 tonnes of yellowcake, at present, UCIL in East Singhbhum produces 220 tonnes. Massive expansion is underway in the area to increase the production to the required 300 tonnes.
East Singhbhum has seven uranium mines and two processing mills that function under the UCIL. The UCIL campus serves as the headquarters for the mines, and itself has a processing unit and the oldest mines in the region. The Bhatin and Narwapahar mines are 2 km and 10 km respectively from Jadugoda. Turamdih, which has a mine as well as a processing mill, is 20 km from Jadugoda. The Mohuldih and Banduhurang mines are 5 km away from Turamdih. Bagjata is around 30 km from Jadugoda.
In the words of India’s widely circulated fortnightly magazine The Covert’s correspondent Appu Esthose Suresh “This correspondent travelled on the same route used to ferry uranium ore from the mines to the processing plants in Jadugoda and Turamdih. The absence of policemen along the entire route was striking. There was not a single police picket or post. In Jharia, on the way from Narwapahar to Jadugoda, a large warehouse that is used to store explosives had no guard worth the name.
This so-called restricted area located on a small hilltop and surrounded by mountains and dense forests, is guarded by just four policemen in two bunkers. The sole watchtower at the warehouse did not have a single guard on duty. This scribe visited the sport several times on different days, but the watchtower remained vacant, always. This road is routinely used by the trucks that transport uranium ore mined at Narwapahar and Bhatin to the UCIL mill at Jadugoda, and is therefore a vital link to the mines”.
Appu further writes that On 1 August, 2009, Jadugoda was preparing itself for a strike called by the Naxalites. News came in of heavy gunfire and the torching of a few trucks near Jamshedpur. A policeman at the Jadugoda police station said, on condition of anonymity, “Naxalism was always a problem in the district. But they have never succeeded in gaining ground near this town. But things have changed: the panic that you see among the people is a case in point. We all know that if they want to put up a bloody show they can. They are cowards, they hit and run into the mountains, but blood spills nevertheless.”
It takes a 30 km bone-rattling drive to reach Bagjata mine from Jadugoda. The narrow and dusty road running through a hill-locked valley is marked with potholes and numerous bends. Bagjata is less than 10 km from Dumaria by road, and surrounded by mountain ranges that are reportedly under Naxalite control. SP Navin Kumar Singh said, “Last year, we busted a Naxalite central office in Dumaria, Eight of them were killed and a large quantity of arms, including AK-47s, and ammunition were recovered.” Bagjata is under the jurisdiction of the Mosabani police station, and as Ramesh Kumar Singh, who is in charge of the police station, pointed out, “The forest areas surrounding Bagjata are the nerve centres of Naxalite activities. They oppose uranium mining. Recently, they confirmed their presence through posters pasted inside Bagjata mine and in the areas surrounding it.”
Mosabani police station is located nearly 10 km from the mine in Bagjata and functions from a derelict building. It has a total strength of 55 policemen. Ramesh Kumar Singh added, “The mountain range stretches into West Bengal and Orissa, and encompasses and other mines. We are aware of the movement, but constant surveillance is literally impossible considering the terrain.” While the UCIL and the district police admit that Bagjata mine faces a major security threat from the Naxalites, the journalists’ team could not find a single policeman in the area to prove that the threat has been taken seriously. This correspondent just walked into the mine complex from the forest and was not stopped even once by any policeman or anyone else.
Walking a few miles through the paddy fields near Bagjata took our team to the Dalboonkand block. The villagers there appeared terrified. One of the villagers, Mangal Murmu had been killed, allegedly by the rebels. Mangal was vocal about the rights of the labourers employed at Bagjata, and one day, he was found dead. The police insist that the Naxalites were responsible for his death. Ramesh Kumar Singh said, “His murder created further tensions between the UCIL management and the labour. The Naxalites must have factored this in.” The fear is palpable and we were chased away by the villagers when we tried to get a response from Murmu’s family and his neighbours about his murder.
The Daily Mail’s investigation team learnt that the radiation was a big problem in the area, yet it was unaddressed by the government. According to The Daily Mail’s findings,on Aug. 16, 2008, a new tailings pipeline burst near Jaduguda caused a uranium mill tailings spill that reached nearby homes.
The management of the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) agreed to rehabilitate the 26 families affected by the radioactive waste that spewed in Dungridih Jadugoda. The UCIL also proposed a modern village in its leasehold area, besides providing the villagers with other facilities but nothing such happened later on. These investigations further reveal that During flash floods in June 2008, radioactive uranium waste dumped into a tailing pond of Uranium Corporation of India Ltd (UCIL) in Jadugoda of Jamshedpur spilled over into nearby village ponds, wells and fields, and destroyed crops as well.
While UCIL authorities admitted that radioactive waste had spilled into villages, they maintained that it would not pose any health threats to villagers. “We are monitoring the situation. Our scientists are taking samples from villages,” P.V. Dubey, UCIL spokesperson told media in June 2008. “There will be no negative impact on human beings. The waste has been neutralised by the large amount of water,” he added.
Residents of nearby villages have stopped using water from their ponds and wells, fearing health problems. Villagers have also complained that the nuclear waste had destroyed a large amount of crops. “The waste that spilled from the tailing pond has destroyed our crops. If this continues, there might not be any crops in the coming years,” said Kannhu Murmu of Tilaitand village. Some experts also feel that the radioactive waste would also have a harmful impact on the soil for years. “The waste will get mixed with soil and in the long run would pose health-related problems to both human beings and animals,” said Nitish Priyadarshi, a local geologist.
The Daily Mail’s investigations further disclose that in a shocking revelation, a team of the Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD) had come out with some bare truths regarding health hazards faced by miners working in the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) in the form of a detailed survey report. The survey was undertaken by the organisation affiliated to Germany-based International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) in association with Jharkhandi Organisation Against Radiation (JOAR).
“The study was conducted between May and August 2007,” said Shakeel Ur Rahman, the secretary of the national council of the association. Conducted in two different phases, while one survey concentrates on villages within the radius of 2.5 km from the mines, a similar one was undertaken in villages about 30 km from the mining areas. A total of 2,118 households in the first category, while another 1,956 households were studied in the second category.
According to the survey, more children – about 9.5 per cent of the newborns – are dying each year due to extreme physical deformity, primary sterility is becoming common with 9.6 per cent of women not being able to conceive even three years after marriage. Cancer deaths in nearby villages are about 2.87 per cent and 68.33 per cent people are dying before the age of 62.
The Daily Mail’s investigation team found that the UCIL’s lethargic approach and inability handle such a sensitive programme of handling Uranium can be judged that the UCIL’s pipelines, carrying Uraniumand that are always lying in open, have a history of leakages and bursts. According to these investigations ,on April 10, 2007, a new tailings pipeline burst near Jaduguda caused a uranium mill tailings spill. According to UCIL, the spill was caused from damage to the rubber lining of the tailings pipeline “by a wooden log left inside the pipe during replacement”, and comprised 1.5 tons of solids and 20 cubic metres of liquid; the spilled material was contained within the earthen bund constructed beside the channel and did not reach any water body or public domain. Similarly, earlier on December 25, 2006, the tailings pipeline carrying uranium mill tailings from the Jaduguda uranium mill to tailings dam No. 3 broke, spreading tailings into a tributary of river Subranarekha. UCIL then started cleaning up the tailings spill. The findings into the matter further indicate that on Feb. 17, 2007, two NGOs – Friends of South Asia (FOSA) and Association for India’s Development (AID) – submitted a petition to the UCIL and the Department of Atomic Energy demanding an investigation into the accident and seeking full remediation. The petition was signed by hundreds of individuals from around the world.
According to UCIL, the spill was caused from damage of the rubber lining and metal of the tailings pipeline “due to prolonged use”, and comprised 6-8 tons of solids and 60 cubic metres of liquid.
The Daily Mail’s investigations reveal further that in 2001 and 2002, Hiroaki Koide from the Research Reactor Institute at Kyoto University performed field trips to monitor environmental impacts of the Jadugoda uranium mine. He monitored external gamma dose rate, radionuclide concentrations in soil, and radon concentration in air. His results are compiled in a report available for download. The main conclusions are:
o The contamination from the uranium mine has spread in Jadugoda:
o The external gamma dose rate exceeds 1 mSv/y in the villages, and reaches 10 mSv/y around the tailing ponds.
o The soil surrounding the tailings ponds is contaminated by uranium. Particularly high contamination levels were found in the village of Dungridih that borders tailings pond No.1. In other villages, no serious contamination was found.
o Radon emanated from tailings ponds etc spreads contamination.
o Waste rock from the mine used for construction material spreads contamination.
o Other findings include:
o The No.1 tailings pond shows contamination by cesium. This fact shows that radioactivity was brought in from a source other than an uranium mine.
o Product uranium concentrate is dealt with carelessly and was found dispersed at Rakha Mine railway station.
The Daily Mail’s investigations reveal further that The River Subarnarekha literally translates into “streak of gold”. But the only streaks in this river are untreated sewage, industrial and mineral wastes and unbelievably, radioactive wastes, affecting human health.
Radioactive wastes in Indian rivers is an undocumented environmental tragedy in India.
This once-pleasing river originates in the Chotanagpur plateau of Jharkhand in eastern India and finally enters the Bay of Bengal after a 452 km journey. Along the way, it courses a picturesque countryside, plunging 74 metres at Hundrugargh.
Though there are 15 water quality monitoring stations, the Subarnarrekha is a receptacle of wastewater (urban as well as industrial) from three major townships – Jamshedpur, Ranchi and Ghatsila. Organic pollution loads from the countryside pollute equally.
Uranium ore tailings from the Jaduguda mines operated by Uranium Corporation of India Ltd (UCIL), causes various degrees of radioactivity along a 100 km stretch. This has resulted in documented cases of deformities among human beings, but, the Indian scenario being what it is, precious little has been done for them.
“UCIL alleges that the deformities are not unusual to the Indian rural scenario,” says Manish Tewari, a journalist who had traveled to Jaduguda from Delhi. “It alleges that the uranium and deformity link is a creation of the media,” he says, unbelieving.
Curiously, no studies have been commissioned to check on the veracity of these reports and possible linkage with uranium. It’s all conveniently swept under the carpet. Reports would always remain confidential in any event, because uranium ore is strategic to national security. Anything related to nuclear science is treated as a holy cow that cannot be questioned.
Back on Safari to explore Uranium affairs in Jharkhand out team narrates, THE ROAD that connects Turamdih and Jadugoda is once again without any security presence. The processing mill at Turamdih was commissioned in 2006 to process the uranium ore obtained from the open cast mine of Banduhurang and the underground mines of Mohuldih and Turamdih.
Once the uranium ore is processed at the mill and converted to yellowcake, these it is sent to the Nuclear Fuel Complex in Hyderabad, Yellowcake is 80% rich in uranium oxide and is used to make fuel road for nuclear reactors. The UCIL plant in Jadugoda and Turamdih send the packed yellowcakes to Hyderabad by trucks guarded by the Central Industrial Security Force. Sources confirmed that the trucks travel via NH 33 till the Jharkand-Orissa border and then use the NH 6 for a few kilometres before taking the NH 5 to Vijaywada, and from there to Hyderabad by NH 9. SP Navin Kumar Singh had earlier told Covert, “Ghatshila, Dalbhumgarh and Dumaria are the Naxalite hot belts in East Singhbhum.” And NH 33 goes through this same “hot belt”.
According to UCIL spokesperson P.B. Dubey, “They UCIL has been functioning here for more than 40 years and so far there has not been any incident. Moreover, we have security arrangements, the details of which cannot be disclosed.” When the question of the safety of UCIL trucks was put to SP Navin singh, he expressed similar views: “This has been going on for years. There is no report of any imminent threat from the Naxalites.”
In 2008 Bihar police arrested two persons carrying uranium ore reportedly worth Rs 23 crores. According to Shyam Kumar, the then superintendent of police in Bihar’s Saupal district, “The uranium was on its way to Nepal. The origin of the uranium is unknown.” Security experts, however, have little doubt that the uranium is from East Singhbhum, while it remains a fact that the area is the only source of uranium in India.
Ajit Doval, a former Director of India’s Intelligence Bureau (IB) says “The Naxalites can easily turn their attention to illegal uranium trade for their funding. This is a real possibility.” He further added, “The end user of this uranium can be a threat to the country. Hence, it should not be treated merely as a case of theft. Rather, the Government must conduct a serious investigation and identify the buyers.” The case has not made any headway even after a year.
The locakadaisical attitude of the Indian Government is all the more evident from the lack of safety precautions at the sites. Just last year, 2008, the pipe that carries radioactive waste from the processing mill to the tailing pond at Jadugoda, burst near Dugridi village. Massang Soren, the village sarpanch, told the investigating journalists, “No UCIL official turned up until we started protesting. Our fields were flooded with uranium waste and we could see the danger we faced. The paddy field turned yellow and then red but no one came,” said a local adding, “For at least three months the entire village reported various kinds of health problems. Everyone in the village developed blisters on the soles of their feet and these could not be cured easily.” The villagers complained that the UCIL did not give them any assistance to clean the water and the fields polluted by the spillage.
At the Bagjata mine, tonnes of uranium ore lie in the open. Local activists allege that by using uncovered trucks to transport the ore, and by keeping the ore for days and weeks in the open the UCIL has exposed the entire region to radiation. Confirming their fears Dr S.P. Aggarwal, who heads the Radiological Safety Division at the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), says, “Uranium ore is naturally radioactive.” At the same time, officials at AERB refused to comment on the radiation level in East Singhbhum.
The Investigations indicate that in 2008, Andhra Pradesh had a near brush with radioactive poisoning. The trucks carrying the yellowcakes from Jadugoda met with an accident and overturned on the NH 5 near Narsannapeta in Andhra Pradesh. Luckily, there was no leakage of radioactive material. But UCIL officials dismissed that as a “one off incident” and continued to use the same mode of transportation.
UCIL spokesperson Dubey is on the record to confirm that there were plans to open a nuclear power plant near Jadugoda. He says, “The proposal is under serious consideration. But it is a lengthy process, so it can take a while.”
AJIT DOVAL spoke of the possibility of the Naxalites posing a grave security threat to the region because of “poor security and the Naxalites’ increasing influence”. A senior police official, on condition of anonymity, said “There is a lack of political will to fight the Naxalites. We all know that if this region goes to the Naxalites, the nation can be held to ransom.” He added: “If they just erect road blocks on the route which ferries the uranium ore they can stop the functioning of the UNIL complex in Jadugoda.” But SP Navin Kumar arrested, “This is an exaggerated view. As I said earlier, there is no such case so far.” He went on to add, “This sort of cynicism only boosts their confidence.” However, while he spoke, it was evident from his voice and body language that he didn’t mean at all what he was saying in his official capacity.
The statistics available from the district police headquarters reveal that in 2008 there were 35 incidents related to Naxalite violence; 15 landmines, 500 kg of explosives and 109 pieces of ammunition were seized. In 2003, at Peddagattu in Andhra Pradesh’s Nalgonda district, the Naxalites kidnapped 25 officials of Atomic Mineral Directorate for Exploration and Research before setting their equipment and machines on fire. Yet, the police superintendent and UCIL are hopeful that the Naxalites will not try to disrupt mining related activities, even though they publicly oppose all such activities.
Former Jharkhand Governor Ved Marwah says, “I think increasing investment is the right thing to do, especially in mining. If the Government steps back from initiating development projects in a particular region, it is only natural that the area will come under Naxalite influence.” When asked about the security threats that the Naxalites pose tot eh strategic nuclear programme in East Singhbhum he said, “If the Government is serious about fighting the Naxalites it can easily fight them:” He added, “When I was the Jharkhand Governor there were regions that had not been visited by the administration. I happened to be the first person going there. The police should be reorganised. With constant surveillance the problem can be tackled. Why should we refrain from starting development projects fearing Naxal attacks? That will give the wrong impression.”
Interestingly, the Union Home Minister Mr P Chidambaram continues to deny the existence of “liberated zones” and the “Naxalite corridor”. In one of the recently concluded sessions of Indian parliament, Minister of State for Home Affairs, Ajay Maken, in a written reply rubbished the claims of liberated zones and the Naxaline corridor as “baseless propaganda”. However, the officers in the field insist that “There are areas where we don’t dare to go.” As Ved Marwah pointed out, “To fight Naxalism we need a realistic plan.”
The Daily Mail’s investigations also disclose that there are certain Nexal sympathisers in the ranks of Indian nuclear scientists who are secretly helping the nexal rebels to learn to utilize and transport Uranium. These investigations reveal that N Mahalingam an Indian nuclear scientist from Kaiga Nuclear Power Plant in Karnataka was one of those Nexal facilitators. Mahalingam went mysteriously missing in June last year. After a few days, his dead body was found from a lake and it was presumed that he had committed suicide. Indian Minister for Home Affairs P Chidumbaram, who recent showed his muscles to The Daily Mail regarding one of its investigative reports about Indian army, on the eve of the discovery of the dead body of Mahalingam, assured the public and the media that he will soon reveal the causes and reasons of the death of the nuclear scientist but as usual he has never come up with a single word over the issue since then. The Daily Mail’s investigations reveal that Mahalingam was actually picked up by Indian Intelligence Agency RAW for doubts about his links with Nexal rebels but was killed due to a severe third degree torture during the interrogation. Later RAW people threw his dead body in a pond and informed police through an unknown call. The bruises on the dead body Mahalingam proved that he was tortured to death.
Happening of such incidents and the absence of a plan and even security on the ground, a red question mark hangs over the future of India’s ambitious nuclear projects. At the same time it raises a big, big question mark that how could the United States government sign a civilian nuclear deal with a country, having such state of affairs in the direction capabilities to handle nuclear related matters.
This also gives a shut-up call to all those Western journalists and Western governments that keeping expressing fears that neighbouring Muslim State Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal was prone to fall in the hands of religious extremists. This state of affairs in the direction india’s naked nukes clearly proves that Indian Nuclear arsenal and the entire nuclear infrastructure is much, much more fragile and vulnerable to fall in the hands of militants and etreemists than that of Pakistan’s.
Kapil Verma & Priyanka Joshi add from Mumbai: Though the Indian officials have yet to come up with any official announcement regarding the mysterious fire that broke out at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), India top nuclear research facility on 29th December, 2009, The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that Mumbai’s underworld mafia Don Chhota Rajan’s goons and some infamous, serving and dismissed Mumbai Cops’ nexus was behind the BARC blaze as a detailed examination was being conducted at the chemistry lab of the centre on the material seized by cops from three persons, belonging to Chhota Rajan gang in Navi Mumbai on the 8th of December 2009.
The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that Mumbai police announced on December 8th,2009 that they have arrested three persons who were possessing some suspected chemical. In the beginning, police refused to disclose the identities of the arrested persons but later identified them as Premsingh Savitri, Srinivas Poriyar and Tulsidas Bhanushali and stated that they were booked under unlawful possession of prescribed material under sections of the Atomic Energy Act. Gulabrao Pol, commissioner of police Navi Mumbai, declined to divulge information about the exact time and place from where the three were arrested. However, Police officials said, the suspicious looking material in the form of a metallic ball was sent to the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC).
The Daily Mail’s findings indicate that the top police authorities handed over the further investigations of the case to Mumbai Police’s Special Branch, where the case was given to ACP Prakash Wani was responsible for the Crime Branch’s operations in Mumbai’s eastern suburbs that indicates that the trio with suspected chemical was arrested from eastern Mumbai, considered to be a stronghold of RAW’s Chhota Rajan mafia gang.
The Daily Mail’s findings indicate that ACP Prakash Wani is known for his deep-rooted links with underworld for years. These findings further indicate that in 1998, when he was an Inspector and posted at Chembur Police Station, Wani was alleged to be associated with the underworld. The then Mumbai Police Commissioner, Ronnie Mendonca, had tried to transfer him, along with some other tainted policemen. However, Wani got a UN deputation to the mission in Kosovo. After his return from Kosovo, Wani has been posted in different capacities in the eastern suburbs of Mumbai. Top officers are learnt to have warned him about his conduct.
These findings further indicate that Inspector Nivrutt Khalatkar of Mumbai’ Crimes Branch was assisting ACP Prakash Wani in the case, though his primary responsibility was to look after the ant-extortion policing. The Daily Mail’s findings indicate that while handing over the case to Mumbai Crime Branch’s notorious officers like ACP Prakash Wani and Inspector Khalatkar, it was not taken into the consideration that both were having deep down links with underworld specially with the goons of Chhota Rajan, or perhaps it was done deliberately.
The Daily Mail’s findings indicate that soon after the case of the arrested trio was transferred to the Crimes Branch, Chhota Rajan’s lieutenant, Paulson Joseph, who is now on the rapid rise in Mumbai’s underworld, approached ACP Prakash Wani and held detailed meeting with him at o local bar in Colaba. Joseph persuaded ACP Prakash Wani to rescue him and his men in the case of suspected chemical and told Prakash Wani that the chemical was actually Uranium and was being “transported” by his three men for a subsequent shipment to Rajan Bhai (Chhota Rajan) in Afghanistan and the matter had nothing to do with India or India’s national security. Joseph insisted ACP Prakash to use his position to get the tests of the chemical changed at BARC. Upon this ACP Prakash told Joseph that since the samples had already been sent to BARC it was a bit difficult for him to influence the scientists at BARC but still promised him of his all-out help.
Sources in the Mumbai underworld, close to D.K Rao Gang, revealed to The Daily Mail that soon after the meeting, ACP Prakash summoned Inspector Khalatkar to another bar in the eastern suburbs of Mumbai and held discussions with him over the new development. Prakash deputed Inspector Khalatkar to find some way-out in the shortest possible time. These sources say that Inspector Khalatkar knew someone at the BARC and had been kind of blackmailing him for his certain extramarital affairs and this someone was none else but a Director of the BARC, A.N Prasad while Prasad was in Bangalore at that time. Inspector Khalatkar also knew someone at the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) as he had also spared this someone of DAE during raids at prostitution dens and illegal casinos. These D.K Rao Gang related sources revealed further to The Daily Mail that this someone from DAE was SK Malhotra, known for a living a colorful nightlife.
The Daily Mail’s investigations reveal that though Malhotra was in no position to extend any solid help Khalatkar but could only inform him that a small amount of Chemical’s sample that Khalatkar was looking for had already been sent to a DAE facility in Nagpur and advised Khalatkar to focus on Prasad for any further help. Upon this Khalatkar contacted A.N Prasad who promised for him of his help but said that he could only him in the Nagpur Episode as he was unable to give any favour back at BARC.
The Daily Mail’s investigations reveal that the magic worked and the reports from Nagpur came with lesser lethality. Mrinal Roy, regional director of Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (Central Region) in Nagpur, though confirmed the material as being uranium but tempered the findings by stating that it was of a very low grade form which is normally found in X-Ray machines, cancer treatment machines as radiation shields and cannot be used for explosive purposes, while it actually was of a high grade and of serious nature and can be used for explosive purposes
The Daily Mail’s findings that though Paulson Joseph was very happy over the job done by ACP Prakash and his deputy Inspector Khalatkar, yet expressed his fear that the remaining part of the chemical at BARC was a permanent threat for him and requested ACP Prakash to help him in stealing that from BARC. After examining the situation for a couple of days, Prakash- Khalatkar duo told Joseph that it was not possible to steal the chemical from BARC but it can be destroyed by setting the said lab of the BARC on fire. The duo also informed Joseph that the part of the Chemical that was left with Mumbai Crimes Branch had already been “taken care of”.
The Daily Mail’s investigations reveal that upon this Joseph decided to go all out through his commandos to accomplish the mission and his goons from Tilak Nagar finally managed to set the said part of the BARC ablaze, though 2 scientists were also killed in the process while ACP Prakash and Inspector Khalatkar gave the gave full assistance and protection throughout the operating of blazing a part of BARC. The Daily Mail’s findings indicate that the Operation of setting BARC ablaze was conducted under the supervision and command of a former cop of Mumbai Police, who was dismissed from service and now works for Chhota Rajan Gang. This cop, identified as former Inspector Pradeep Sharma, according to the underworld sources, has become a very important spearhead member of Rajan Gang. The Daily Mail’s findings indicate that once one of Mumbai Police’s famed encounter specialists, Inspector Pradeep Sharma was dismissed from the force after the then Mumbai Police Commissioner, Hasan Gafoor, served him dismissal orders under Article 311 of the Constitution for his ‘unsatisfactory prior record’. His dismissal followed a probe into his alleged links with the underworld.
Sharma, who joined the Mumbai Police in 1983, has the highest number of encounter victims to his name in the state, logging a total of 107 killings. He has the distinction of having been featured on Time magazine’s cover. Some notorious criminals slain in operations supervised by Sharma include Dawood Ibrahim’s close aide Sadiq Kalya in Dadar in 1999, Rafiq Dabbawala of the Subhash Thakur gang in 2001, Vinod Matkar of the Chhota Rajan gang, and three alleged LeT terrorists in 2003.
He was posted as the head of the Kandivili unit of the Mumbai Police Crime Branch and later shifted to D N Nagar Police Station. Along with five other policemen, Sharma was transferred out of Mumbai when being probed for the alleged custody death of 2002 Ghatkopar bomb blast accused Khwaja Yunus. Sharma was exonerated by the state CID and was posted at the main control room at the Mumbai Police headquarters before being dismissed.
The Daily Mail’s findings further indicate that after the “BARC Operation”, the demands and expectations of the Prakash- Khalatkar duo had gone very, very high, though they were paid handsomely (as always) for this particular ‘job’, yet the duo was flying very high and asking for more and more, again and again. This situation really annoyed Chhota Rajan to the maximum, back in Afghanistan and he decided to get rid of the duo for good. The sources revealed to The Daily Mail that Rajan ordered Joseph to execute a plan to get rid of the two cops has he had come to know that the duo was also cooperating with his deputies but secretly emerging rival D.K Rao.
Joseph, to execute the plan, invited ACP Prakash and Inspector Khalatkar along with three other cops of Mumbai police to a Christmas party at Chembur Gymkhana where all the cops were secretly recorded on the tape as they were dead drunk and dancing along with a number of underworld mafia men. Later this video was secretly released to the media which resulted into the suspension of all the cops, including the duo that were present as celebrated guests at top night-long party of the underworld goons. Some other reports however indicate that the tape and the information about the entire episode was released to the media and top cops by D.K Rao but there are no confirmations to this slant.
The Daily Mail’s findings indicate that the Indian authorities also tried to hush-up the matter of the mysterious fire at the BARC and never cam up with a solid conclusive report to determine the cause of fire at the top nuclear research facility. These findings indicate that The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) authorities did set up two committees to look into the cause of the fire but these committees never came up with a conclusive report over the issue.
The Daily Mail’s findings indicate that the Uranium that was seized from the trio of Chhota Rajan Gang was obtained from Jhrakhand, the nuclear hub of India, where it is easily available and was being sent to Chhota Rajan who is based in Afghanistan as head of RAW’s Special Operations Division. However it could not be ascertained that what was the subsequent of use of this Uranium at the end of Chhota Rajan and why such panic was shown by the Rajan gang to evaporate the issue and eliminate the evidences.
The Daily Mail’s findings indicate that the state of the affairs regarding safety and security of nuclear facilities and nuclear material has never been impressive at all in India. Setting aside the incident that took place at BARC, the otherwise overall situation of safety and security of nuclear installations and nuclear material in India has become really alarming and a source of permanent concern for the global community in general and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in particular.
The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that apart from highly alarming situation regarding the nuclear materials in Indian region of Jharkhand, the situation is highly fragile across country otherwise as well. These findings indicate that just a month before the BARC incident took place, something really fishy happened at another nuclear facility of India that put a big question mark on the state of nuclear safety in India . These investigations indicate that in November 2009, about 55 employees of the Kaiga Nuclear Power Plant in Uttara Kannada district of India were exposed to nuclear radiation after a radioactive leakage at the plant. The authorities though registered an official complaint in this direction but like the BARC incident, no conclusive report about this lethal incident was ever made public.
The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that in another incident in December 2006, a container packed with radioactive material was stolen from a fortified research facility in eastern India , prompting a major hunt and fears of contamination.
“It carries uranium and radiation and could have an adverse effect in an area of 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mile),” the then Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Khoda warned.
The then Chief Minister of Jharkand further stated that said the uranium was stolen during the process of being moved to a research site at the densely-populated town of Rajrappa from a federal atomic facility near Mumbai.
Arjun Munda, an opposition leader in the then Jharkhand’s legislative assembly, demanded speedy action. “The government must initiate immediate steps to find the apparatus as it is extremely hazardous,” he said in state capital Ranchi .
The Daily Mail’s findings further reveal that this theft came a year after police in the northeastern state of Assam arrested two uranium thieves after detectives posing as buyers offering 1.5 million rupees (34,000 dollars) managed to recover stolen radioactive material.