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'Uranium' seized in Birbhum, Bengal
A mysterious seizure of Uranium from a roadways bus has perplexed the state government officials. Custom officials, on a tip off, made the seizure. Scientists were contacted, but confirmation is awaited. A report.
IN A MYSTERIOUS seizure, which sent district officials in a tizzy, Customs officers during a check on Wednesday came across a package with the words ‘Uranium’ on it, in a bus at the Nalhati tollgate in Birbhum district, West Bengal. It was packed in a sealed leather bag and stashed away in a brief case.
 
The package weighed about a pound. It had ‘Uranium 100/100 Code 001,’ Made in USA stamped on it. While the date of manufacture was largely illegible with just Mfg 19 written on the packet, the date of expiry was clear and read – 2023.
 
Officials were foxed as there was no clue as to who it was being sent to and who had despatched the packet.
 
At about 11 a.m. on Thursday, on being tipped off that a bus was carrying explosives, Customs officials kept a vigil from 9 a.m. The officers stopped and searched each bus at the toll tax gate on the Panagarh-Morgram Highway on the Jagadhri Bridge over the Bramhani River.
 
The bus, in which the packet was found, was travelling from Jangipur in Murshidabad district to Barakar in Burdwan district. A few seats from the front door of the bus, officials found a brief case on the overhead rack along with a few other pieces of luggage.
 
The passengers were offloaded and a thorough search conducted. The officers were unable to identify which passenger was carrying the brief case.
 
Inside the brief case was a packet wrapped in a newspaper. A thick brown leather bag emerged further wrapped in a carbon paper. The bag with a metal frame was sealed with black tape
 
The uranium was later kept in an iron box.
 
An anxious district magistrate informed Writers Buildings the state secretariat and got in touch with nuclear scientist Bikash Sinha, according to reports in the vernacular press in Kolkata. The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Salt Lake, in North 24-Pargans told district officials that two experts were being sent. However, till midnight they were unable to reach Nalhati. The authorities are worried that the uranium may have been despatched by terrorists through conduits.
 
Sinha was quoted as saying that unless one is sure what the metal is there was no reason for alarm.

The driver and conductor were questioned but they were unable to throw any light.
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