Alert conductor finds bomb in Raigad ST bus

Mumbai: Even as the country is still recovering from the Pulwama terror attack on February 14 and a mysterious blast on the Western Express Highway (WEH) with a low-intensity bomb-like device on Wednesday, an improvised explosive device (IED) was found in a State Transport (ST) bus at Apta bus depot in Raigad on Wednesday night. An alert conductor, who was checking the vehicle at the depot before leaving for the day, spotted the bomb.

The depot authorities immediately alerted local police and the bomb was defused with the help of the Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad (BDDS). Rasayani Police have registered a case against unidentified persons and a parallel investigation by the Anti-Terrorism Squad is underway. The ST bus, plying between Karjat and Apta village, had reached Apta bus depot around 10.15pm. An hour later, when the ST bus conductor, PP Mendake, was checking the vehicle, he noticed a plastic bag placed under a seat.

When he checked the contents, he was shocked to find an object that looked like a bomb, along with a bag of a powdery substance, later identified as a 3kg bag of urea. Mendake immediately asked the passengers to vacate the depot premises and alerted local police. Rasayani Police reached the spot at 10.45pm and alerted the BDDS, along with ATS.

A six-person BDDS team carefully removed the device from the ST bus and began defusing it in an open area. Anil Paraskar, superintendent of police (Raigad) said, “The bomb, which was held together with black tape, was defused at 2.45am. Police are still awaiting a detailed report from the bomb disposal squad and the forensic team, but prima facie, the bomb seems to be a low-intensity one.”

The defusing process resulted in a small blast. The forensics team have barricaded the area where the contents of the IED were dispersed and have collected samples to ascertain the make and intensity of the bomb. “The bomb is suspected to have been made by an amateur, as, had it blown off, it would have resulted in an incident as grave as the bursting of a firecracker,” said Paraskar.

Rasayani Police have booked unidentified persons under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code for negligent conduct with respect to explosive substance. Meanwhile, police are trying to identify the owner of the bag and ascertaining why it was left behind on the ST bus. A high alert has been issued in the region and all the buses are being checked thoroughly before they leave for their destination.

On Wednesday, a low-intensity blast was heard on the WEH, a few metres from the Thakur Mall near the Dahisar toll naka at 10am. While the cause of the explosion was unclear, the BDDS and forensic team had collected samples to determine the cause and material. A biker had sustained minor injuries in the explosion.

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