INDIA. Mumbai: The Nagpada unit of the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) of Mumbai Police on Wednesday arrested two persons and seized the highly radioactive natural uranium worth Rs 21.30 crore from them.
An offence (CR No. 14/2021) has been registered under sections 24(1) (A) of the Atomic Energy Act 1962 and the accused identified as Jigar Jayesh Pandya (27), a resident of Thane, and Abu Tahir Afzal Hussain Choudhary (31), a resident of Mankhurd in northeast Mumbai, have been remanded to police custody till May 12, 2021.
Upon receiving information that a person was going to illegally sell pieces of uranium substance, a trap was laid by acting Police Inspector Santosh Bhalekar, API Prashant Sawant, and Havildars- Mulla, Dhavale, and Pande, and the accused Pandya was taken into custody, while he was waiting for the customer. Based on the information provided by Pandya, the police raided Kurla Scrap Merchants Association’s workshop located at Mankhurd and nabbed Choudhary. The police seized the natural uranium weighing about 7 kg and 100 gms worth Rs 21.30 from him.
The seized material was sent to Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Trombay, Mumbai for analysis, which termed the substance as natural uranium which is highly radioactive and dangerous. The offence was registered in consultation with the Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research, Civil lines, Nagpur against the accused.
An investigation is underway for finding out that where did this dangerous substance come from, who gave it to the arrested accused and what was it to be used for. It is possible that the duo brought the dangerous substance with the help of people in the laboratory.
Uranium is a highly explosive material which can be extremely deadly, if it goes into the wrong hands. As little as 15 lb (7 kg) of uranium-235 can be used to make an atomic bomb.
Uranium is a very important element because it provides nuclear fuel used to generate electricity in nuclear power stations. It is also the major material from which other synthetic trans uranium elements are made. India has uranium reserves in Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Meghalaya, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka. At present the uranium mines are operational in Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh.