Chandigarh: Three mortar shells found abandoned at Ramdarbar

Live mortar shells being carried in bomb basket to a safe place at mandi ground in Ramdarbar in Chandigarh on Saturday. (Express photo by Jaipal Singh)

Three high explosive mortar shells were found abandoned in a garbage pile at Ramdarbar phase 2, triggering panic among local residents on Saturday.

The shells, each having a length of 6 inch to 7 inch, were spotted by a garbage collector, Pawan Kumar, around 6.30 am. A senior officer said, "Two of the shells appeared to be live and one was dead. But we are considering all three as live shells."

Later, defence personnel from Western Command agreed to defuse these shells and a location was being searched within the radius of 500 metres without human population for destroying the explosives.

Soon after receiving the information, the Chandigarh Police cordoned the entire area installing barricades on both the sides of main road and intimated military and Air Force authorities as well. Officials of nearby stationed paramilitary forces, including CRPF and ITBP, rushed to the spot.

Security personnel dump the basket in a pit for safety. (Express photo by Jaipal Singh)

A team of Disaster Management, Chandigarh, comprising 18 personnel took the responsibility along with the defence personnel for digging the ground for placing the shells. A JCB machine was used for digging the ground. The operation was started around 7.30 am and explosive mortars were placed in the ditch by 11 am.

The shells were placed in an explosive-proof red drum and put in a ditch and covered with jutebags filled with sand. The military authorities at Western Command were requested to defuse these. A Major rank official visited the site and informed the UT administration that they would be able to defuse the shells after getting permission from Ministry of Defence (MoD). The shells were found in a secluded ground, which is situated hardly 100 metres away from the thick populated phase-2, Ramdarbar.

SP, Chandigarh, Niharika Bhatt, said, "We cannot say whether these shells are live or dead. For us, these are live and we requested the military authorities for defusing these shells. We are making efforts to ascertain the circumstances in which these shells reached this site. It is a serious matter. The human habitat is located just 100 metres away from this site. A DDR was lodged in this connection."

Sanjeev Kohali, an officer with Disaster Management, UT, said, "As the location is identified, we will transport the shells and these will be defused. The process will be completed shortly. Defence authorities have received the permission from Ministry of Defence for this."