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Yogi Adityanath seeks NIA probe after PETN explosive found inside UP Assembly

Atul Chandra | Updated on: 14 July 2017, 16:37 IST
(Ashok Dutta/Hindustan Times/Getty Images)

In a major security breach, an explosive substance was found near the chair of a Samajwadi Party legislator in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly on 12 July.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has sought a probe by the National Investigation Agency after 150 gm of the deadly explosive pentaerythritol trinitrate (PETN) was found.

Rahul Mithas, superintendent of police, Vidhan Sabha, said that the powder, which was wrapped in a paper, was placed not far from the chair of the Leader of the Opposition Ram Govind Chaudhary. However, no detonator was found.

A deadly explosive

The Chief Minister, visibly rattled while making a statement in the House, said that 500 gm of the material was enough to blow up the entire Assembly. He called it a terrorist conspiracy.

PETN is the sam explosive that was used in the Delhi High Court blast in 2011. PETN is a powerful explosive, but since it has no without odour it cannot be detected by sniffer dogs. Due to its plastic nature, the explosive can easily pass metal detectors, security check points and even x-ray machines.

PETN was also used in the bomb plot on a Northwest Airlines Flight 253 in which a passenger tried to set off plastic explosives sewn to his underwear in 2009.

Security measures

Taking a serious view of the breach in security, the CM suggested a slew of measures to beef up the security of the House.

“The recovery of the explosive from the House is proof that some elements were bent on creating mischief and they have to be given a fitting reply,” Adityanath told the House.

The measures include the installation of scanners for cars entering the Vidhan Bhawan, full-body scanners at every entry-point in the Vidhan Sabha and deployment of Quick Response Teams (QRT) of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC). More so, legislators are being urged to not carry their mobile phones and only carry a notebook.

The Chief Minister has insisted on police verification of all Vidhan Sabha security staff. The Speaker, Hriday Narain Dixit, has also cancelled all old passes being used by a few to gain entry. The Secretariat administration has been slow in issuing new passes.

Entry of photographers and journalists covering the House may also be restricted.

While making these suggestions, Adityanath urged the Speaker to beef up the security of the House. As the security measures have to be approved by the Speaker, the CM was scheduled to meet Dixit along with senior officers to discuss the steps to be taken.

The leader of the Opposition said that the security breach was a matter of concern and the House should be unanimous in plugging the loopholes.

The CM summoned a high-level meeting after the powder was found. Prior to the content being sent for forensic examination, a dog squad was pressed into service. A bomb disposal squad also searched the premises and marshals were questioned. The Vidhan Sabha premises were sealed around midnight. Marshals were also questioned. The entire operation was carried out after office hours.

A conspiracy?

Samajwadi Party spokesman CP Rai said the recovery of PETN was “government’s conspiracy”. According to him, security at Vidhan Sabha is already very tight and only marshals and sweepers are allowed inside. He also wanted to know if the CCTV footage had been examined to find out who planted the explosive.

Senior Samajwadi Party leader Rajendra Chaudhary said that the responsibility of the Vidhan Sabha was that of the Speaker and its breach was a serious issue.

He used the opportunity to attack the government for the poor law and order situation in the state.

Meanwhile, a student of Lucknow-based Integral University was arrested from Deoria for allegedly threatening to blow up the Vidhan Sabha by 15 August.

Identified as Farhan, he is said to have called on the CUG number of Additional Director-General of Police, Lucknow, on 6 July, allegedly threatening to blow up the House.

First published: 14 July 2017, 16:37 IST