Bihar: After Three Killed in Explosion, Army Says Mortar Shells Not Fired on Wednesday

The Army speculated that efforts to dismantle a blind mortar shell for scrap metal may have resulted in the detonation in Gulerbed village of Gaya district.

New Delhi: The Army clarified on March 9, Thursday, that no mortar shells were fired at the Deuri Dumri firing range in Bihar’s Gaya district on the previous day, when three people were killed in an explosion apparently caused by a mortar shell.

While reports on Wednesday said that the shell “fell outside the range” in Gulerbed village, the Army has said that there was no firing on that day.

The Army said that images posted on social media show “a circular shaped hole in the ground”, indicating it as the point of impact. However, the detonation of mortar shells on impact does not leave such signatures, it said.

“Ostensibly, this could be a case of unauthorised collection of a Mortar blind shell which fell in the designated impact area on an earlier date, and efforts to dismantle it to extract scrap metal on 08 March 2023 for sale. This could have triggered the detonation, causing the unfortunate accident,” a statement said.

Colonel Dushyant Singh Chauhan, the administrative commandant of Danapur Cantonment, stated that no clearance was given for mortar firing on March 8, 2023. The statement explained that necessary clearances from the local civil administration and police are obtained by notified firing ranges on a daily basis prior to the firing. No such clearance was sought on Wednesday, the statement said.

“The Indian Army extends condolences to the families of those who died and sustained injuries owing to the unfortunate incident near Gulerbed village located under Barachatti Police Station, District Gaya, State Bihar,” said the statement, which was also reissued by Group Captain Samir Gangakhedkar, the
Ministry of Defence’s public relations officer in Prayagraj.

Indian Army’s statement on mortar shell firing.

The statement added that Army teams are assisting the district administration in investigating the cause of the tragedy. The administration in Gaya is also investigating the incident from all angles.

The statement also emphasised the dangers posed by entry into the impact area of field firing ranges and the unauthorised collection of scrap metal. “The Indian Army requests that this dangerous practice of unauthorised collection of scrap metal and even blind rounds for sale, must be refrained from,” it said.

Apart from the three deceased, three other people were injured in the explosion in Gulerbed village, which is a few hundred metres away from the Army firing range. All six persons belong to the same family, reports said.