Domestic manufacturers, security agencies will breathe freely now
In a major relief to domestic manufacturers and security agencies, the Ministry of Home Affairs is learnt to have asked the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) not to allow bulk import of ammonium nitrate (AN) in loose form because it poses a threat to the national security.
As per the directive, the chemical has to be imported ‘in bagged form only,’ irrespective of the quantity in each bag, and the consignment has to be packed at the point of origin.
With this, the August notification of the Ministry of Shipping that allowed a south Indian port to facilitate bulk import in any form has become null and void. The green signal for bulk import in any form was interpreted as import in a loose form. A possible indiscriminate import raised security concerns as ammonium nitrate is an extremely dangerous explosive substance. What had prompted the Shipping Ministry to grant the relaxation is not known.
Domestic manufacturers such as Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilizers Ltd., Gujarat State Fertilizers & Chemicals Ltd. and Deepak Fertilisers & Petrochemicals Corporation Ltd., which together have an installed capacity of 770,000 MT of ammonium nitrate, had raised objections as cheaper imports would have severely affected their business.
Besides, they had invested in bar-coding of ammonium nitrate bags, IT infrastructure and tracking devices to comply with the guidelines for ensuring that even a small quantity does not fall into the wrong hands.
The chemical is so dangerous that the Home Ministry, in its latest order, has made it mandatory for vehicles transporting it to have two armed guards with the GPS system. India consumes 700,000 MT of ammonium nitrate, a raw material for making civil explosives for mining and infrastructure. Since imports are 15-20 per cent cheaper, explosive manufacturers who supply to mining and infrastructure companies have been lobbying for bulk import, especially in loose form.
“Today about 15 per cent of ammonium nitrate consumed in India is imported. This has come down from 60 per cent in 2010 as domestic capacity has increased. Actually, there is no shortage in India,” Alok Perti, director-general, Indian Ammonium Nitrate Manufacturers Association, told The Hindu .
1.6 Army men get life term in Machil encounter case
An Army court martial has awarded life sentence to six of its personnel found guilty in the Machil fake encounter case of 2010.
In a statement on Monday, a Northern Command spokesman said those sentenced were Colonel Dinesh Pathania; Captain Opendra; Havildar Devender Kumar; Lance Naik Lakhmi; Lance Naik Arun Kumar; and rifleman Abas Hussain. This is the first time Army personnel are being punished for human rights abuse in the Valley.
The Army verdict came in December 2013, but remained unconfirmed so far for procedural reasons.
A court of inquiry, headed by Major-General G.S. Sangah, a Brigadier of the 68 Mountain Division in 2010, ascertained the role of the accused and ordered a court martial.
The decision came two years after the Army sought the transfer of the case to a court martial on the ground that the accused were on active duty and the Army could exercise discretion to initiate proceedings before any court.
On April 29, 2010, the Army killed three youths in the Machil sector of Kupwara district on the ground that they were foreign militants. However, a police investigation found out that the dead, Reyaz Ahmad, Mohammad Shafi and Shahzad Ahmadas, were residents of Nadihal Rafiabad of Baramulla district. They were made to come to Machil by a former special police officer, Bashir Ahmad Lone, and his accomplices with the offer of jobs and later handed over to the Army personnel for Rs. 50,000 each. The bodies were exhumed on May 28, 2010.
A colonel, two majors, five soldiers, one Territorial Army man and two civilians were named by the Jammu and Kashmir Police in a charge sheet filed before the Chief Judicial Magistrate in 2010.
“This is a welcome move. However, justice remains incomplete for us till two civilians, part of the fake encounter, are punished. Despite being from a poor background, we pursued the case and will continue to do so.” Muhammad Yousuf, father of victim Reyaz, said.