In what is considered the biggest haul since 2006 in the state, police in Maharashtra’s Nashik arrested three men and seized a large cache of arms from a vehicle near a toll plaza on the Agra-Mumbai highway early on Friday, an officer said.
The seizure, effected near the Chandwad Toll Plaza, included at least two dozen rifles, 19 guns, including two foreign-made revolvers, and more than 4,100 live cartridges, said an officer from Nashik Rural Police Control.
Superintendent of Police, Nashik Rural, Sanjay Darade said as per initial investigations, the arms appear to be stolen from a weapons dealer in Uttar Pradesh’s Banda district this week.
“Presently, we do no suspect a terror angle, but we investigating from all angles and don’t rule out any possiblities,” Darade told our reporter.
An investigating officer earlier said that late on Thursday night, the vehicle’s driver had filled diesel before flashing a gun at the petrol station attendant and fleeing without paying.
The petrol pump staff alerted police which swung into action by placing road blocks at strategic locations on the highway and finally managed to stop the jeep near Chandwad.
A thorough search revealed the arms cache from specially-created compartments inside the vehicle.
Though the arms are suspected to be stolen, Darade said it is yet unclear where they were destined for delivery or disposal, the motives and who are the other people behind the operation.
The Chandwad police have arrested three persons: Nagesh Bansode, 23, a resident of Nashik, Badri Badshal alias Sumit, 27 and Salman Amanullah Khan, 20, both hailing from Sewri in south Mumbai.
Top police officials from the region have joined the Nashik police investigations into the arms haul, the biggest since the arms seizure from Chandaud near Aurangabad in May 2006.
At that time, the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad had seized 43 kgs RDX, 50 hand grenades, 16 AK-47 army assault rifles and 3,000 live bullets from a vehicle.
Later, the investigations were taken over by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the trial in the case continues before the designated courts.