In India, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has arrested two persons from Kolkata in possession of around 250 grams of suspected Californium, a synthetic highly radioactive material that is used in nuclear reactors.
Sailan Karmakar (41) and Asit Ghosh (49) both residents of the Hooghly district in West Bengal were caught near the NSCBI airport near Kolkata. Sharing information on the arrest, a police officer said, “Four ash-colored stones weighing around 250 grams were seized from the accused.” “Preliminary inquiry revealed that it could be Californium. They were trying to sell it for a few lakh rupees, only” the officer added further.
A sample of the radioactive material has been sent by the CID officials to a government laboratory to verify if it’s Californium. A gram of this radioactive material costs around Rs 170 crores, News 18 reported citing police sources. It is used in nuclear reactors and the detection of gold and silver in ores. But it can be used as nuclear weapons too.
“The accused persons have said they got the material from Kerala and brought it here to sell. We are verifying all statements,” informed the officer further.
As per reports, the two accused have been arrested under the Atomic Energy Act and various other IPC sections. It is imperative to note that Californium is not found in nature and has to be produced in a lab and extensively used in Indian Defense Industry.
“We believe these materials have been stolen from some laboratory. We have initiated a probe into this matter,” the officer said.
It is a severe failure of the Government that hazardous materials are accessible by common people. It is the state’s responsibility, and the state must ensure the safety of the ordinary people. However, PM Modi has different priorities and is over-engaged in non-issues. His focus to undermine minorities and the illegal occupation of Kashmir has made him over busy and left no time to safeguard the public interest. His extremist policies and brutalities against minorities are strongly condemned.
It is not the first time that Uranium has been traded like a regular commodity in the open market. It can be dangerous for India as well as the whole world. The law and order situation in India has deteriorated adversely, and criminals may avail this opportunity. The worst scenario will be if the RSS Hindu extremists got access to Uranium, then, definitely, the subcontinent is one case. The fanatic RSS members are so vulnerable that they can go to any extent without considering the consequences.
Therefore it is appealed to the International community, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the UN to take serious notice and place preventive measures on the ground.
In response to media queries regarding another report of theft and illegal possession of radioactive material in India, the Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan stated the following:
“We have noted with serious concern yet another report of theft and illicit sale of radioactive material in India. In the latest incident, as per media reports, two persons were arrested for illegal possession of Californium which is a highly radioactive and toxic substance. It is a matter of grave concern for the international community that an extremely rare Sealed Radioactive Source (SRS) material like Californium could be stolen. As in the previous cases, the arrested individuals apparently got hold of the radioactive material by purchasing it from inside India.
This is the third such occurrence in India in the last four months. Earlier media reports had highlighted separate seizures in May and June 2021 of over 7 kg and more than 6 kg of Uranium from unauthorized persons in India.
These repeated incidents raise serious concerns about the safety and security of nuclear and other radioactive materials in India, and the possible existence of a black market for such materials inside the country. It also indicates the lax arrangements inside India to secure imported SRS material. Pakistan reiterates its call for a thorough investigation and adequate measures to prevent their recurrence.”
The International community and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) must ensure the safety of the public and force the Indian government to take appropriate measures to prevent similar acts in the future. It can endanger not only domestically but may prove a big disaster for the whole region.