Suspected to be used for gemstone excavation in the area
Forest officials who have been probing the suspected gemstone excavation at Palode have recovered explosives that were supposedly meant for mining the semi-precious stone.
The investigators stumbled upon 62 detonators and 43 packets of nitrate mixture, generally used for quarrying, lying concealed under a tarpaulin sheet close to two excavated pits that were discovered at Manachala a day ago. Pump sets were earlier found from the area.
The explosives, which along with the other evidence, were produced at the Judicial First Class Magistrate Court (for the trial of forest offices) in Nedumangad and subsequently handed over to the Palode police, which have registered a case under provisions of the Explosives Substances Act.
According to Palode station house officer C.K. Manoj, a probe has been instituted to identify those who had smuggled explosives into the area. Efforts were on to trace the whereabouts of the nine Bharathanoor natives who had been arrested in connection with a similar attempt made to mine gemstones from the vicinity in 2014, he said.
Bid to identify gang
Meanwhile, officers of the Palode forest range continued their efforts to identify the gang that had managed to reach Manachala by evading detection of forest watchers and others in the area. While the area is generally accessed through the Braemore estate, the forest officials questioned the watcher of the private estate. The investigators also questioned other people in the region in connection with the case.
Meanwhile, three section forest officers in the region were transferred two days ago. While the action was claimed by various quarters as linked to the Manchala incident that raised allegations of lapse in surveillance, the forest authorities maintained that the transfers had been effected on the basis of requests submitted by the officers.
Those who were served the transfer orders by the Palode range officer were Bharathanoor section forest officer Ajayakumar K.G., Peringamala section forest officer Y Martin and Chekkonam section forest officer G. Balachandran Nair, who have been shifted to Peringamala, Chekkonam and Bharathanoor respectively.
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