Sten gun, grenades found in bank locker
Saturday, January 28, 2006.
MUMBAI: When the manager of Bandra's Turner Road branch of the State Bank of India ordered an unused bank locker forcibly opened on Friday morning, what tumbled out was not a jewellery chest, but a mini armoury comprising a sten gun, 12 hand grenades, gun powder and 300 bullets. 

The locker, it is learnt, was in the name of one Ronaldo Viz and was not in operation for the past 15 years. Police sources said the man was untraceable and the address provided to the bank was not authentic. 

The bank had been mailing reminders to the person in the recent past as he had defaulted in paying the locker rent. 

When the current manager found that the locker had not been in use for more than a decade, he called in the local police and ordered his men to break it open in the cops' presence. 

Officials were shocked when they came across the ammunition. Stacked inside were a bunch of passbooks of various banks. The grenades, the gunpowder and bullets have been sent for ballistic examination. Police said the locker was opened in 1984 and the consignment is suspected to belong to a militant group. The anti-terrorist squad (ATS) has already swung into action. 

Said a senior ATS officer, "We are probing two possibilities—either the consignment was used during the Punjab riots in the early '80s or was meant for use at the time of the serial blasts in March 1993." 

During interrogation of those arrested for the 1993 blasts, investigators had learnt about the conspiracy being hatched in Karachi and the landings of various explosives and firearms off the Gujarat and Maharashtra coast. 

"We have to check whether there was any landing in 1990 as this was the last time that the bank locker was operated at the SBI's Bandra branch," an IPS officer said.


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