The seizure of 300 kilogrammes of explosives has raised suspicions of a potential major terrorist attack, especially considering Dharmapuri’s known association with Naxal activities. According to reports from Dinamalar (Tamil daily) and various social media posts, the Salem police, acting on a specific tip about a paddy truck en route to Coimbatore from Dharmapuri, initiated heightened vehicle patrols along national highways. The interception took place around 2:30 am at the Karuppur toll gate near Salem.
A thorough search of the hay-laden lorry revealed over 102 wooden boxes containing more than 30 kilogrammes of gelatin sticks, electric detonators, and gunpowder, totalling a staggering 2,953 kilogrammes. Notably, the deliberate obliteration of barcodes on the boxes added a layer of mystery to the discovery. The police promptly arrested the lorry’s 32-year-old driver, Ilayaraja.
Upon learning of the substantial explosives haul, senior police officials ordered the relocation of the lorry and its contents to the Salem City Police firing ground at the foothills of Nagarmalai. A comprehensive examination followed, conducted by a team comprising senior police officers, intelligence officials, forensic experts, and Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad personnel. The driver, Ilayaraja of Kottappali in Dharmapuri district, claimed innocence, asserting that he had been hired to transport hay to Coimbatore. He explained that the lorry was pre-loaded upon his arrival, and he awaited specific instructions from the Dharmapuri lorry office regarding the precise destination in Coimbatore.
Following the driver’s information, police teams were dispatched to Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri to investigate the origin of the explosives en route to Coimbatore. The incident has sparked concerns, particularly in light of a previous crude explosive incident near Ukkadam at Kottaimedu on October 23, 2022, where one suspect lost his life. Additionally, the Coimbatore rural police arrested nine individuals earlier this year for possession of 622 gelatin sticks and 1,244 detonators, underscoring the gravity of the issue.
Law enforcement authorities have chosen to remain tight-lipped about the ongoing investigation, citing its sensitive nature. The incident highlights potential security threats posed by the illegal transportation of explosives, urging authorities to maintain vigilance for public safety. However, concerns have been raised about the allocation of police resources, with critics citing instances like the protection of Udhayanidhi Stalin on his birthday and road clearances for ministerial convoys as examples of misplaced priorities.
The Q branch police suspect that the large quantities of explosives, lacking proper documentation, could be intended for significant sabotage activities. The Intelligence Bureau (IB) had issued alerts ahead of the 2024 elections, warning of potential attacks. Notably, a notification from the Central government dated September 29, 2023, prohibits the manufacture, possession, and import of electric detonators nationwide, effective April 1, 2025. Restrictions on the use, stock, and sale of detonators to quarry owners aim to prevent them from falling into the hands of anti-national elements.
Calls have emerged for the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe the 3,000-kilogram explosives seizure to trace its roots. Some individuals have pointed out that Al Umma founder and Coimbatore serial blasts main convict SA Basha was on a three-month bail on health grounds when the seizure occurred, raising further questions about potential connections.
As investigations unfold, the focus is on unravelling the motives behind this massive explosives haul and ensuring that comprehensive measures are in place to safeguard national security.