‘Playing with fire’ is an old adage and it seems to appropriately describe the accidental blast that took place in a quarry in Hirenagaveli near Gudibande in Karnataka’s Chikkaballapur district on Tuesday.
A senior police officer told IANS on condition of anonymity that the police started raiding various mines and stone crusher units across the district after the Hunasodu incident in Shivamogga last month woke up the district administration.
“We had conducted a series of raids on explosive suppliers in the district. After raiding several explosive experts/suppliers, the police zeroed in on Gangoji Rao, a big time explosive supplier who hails from Tamil Nadu.
“Rao is known for stockpiling beyond all legal and illegal mining operators’ total requirement. Supplying ‘stronger explosives’ was his forte, that is why he had become close to almost all the mine operators,” the officer explained.
He added that once the police came to know about his profile, Rao was raided multiple times in the last one month, leading to the seizure of huge quantities of explosives.
“Fed up with the raids and multiple cases, he had sought help from the owners of Bhramaravasini Sanders and especially the manager of the quarry, Umakanth, and supervisor Ramu. Both agreed to dispose of his explosives, but Rao did warn them not to play with the explosives in any manner. Instead they should dip all the explosives in water for two to three days and then bury them in some secluded place, Rao had told them,” he said.
The officer added that Umakanth, who has been working in the mines sector for five years, chose to do otherwise. Instead of disposing of the explosives in water, he convinced his five other colleagues to throw them in a fire.
“Here too they committed a blunder. Instead of throwing the explosive sticks one by one, they threw three or four sticks together and due to impact and heat, they spread to other sticks which they were carrying in a plastic gunny bag. As a result of this, they could not even get the time to save themselves or run for cover,” the source said.
In Tuesday’s blast, Gangadhar Babu, Abhilash Nayak, Muralikrishna, Mahesh Singh Bora (a Nepali citizen), Umakanth and Ramu were killed on the spot.