In two early morning raids, the Kolhapur district police on Friday seized 70 kg of ammonium nitrate, 6,525 gelatine sticks and 10,225 electronic detonators, all together worth Rs.97,900.

“The main factor is ammonium nitrate. We are trying to ascertain if the material was meant for any subversive activity, and to whom it was being sold to. Ammonium nitrate is used for agriculture by mixing with fertilizers. However, it can be mixed with petrol to set off a blast. We are not sure if the ammonium nitrate was for legal purposes like mining, etc. The quantity seized was unlicensed,” District Superintendent of Police Yashasvi Yadav told The Hindu.

Mr. Yadav said an official of the Anti-Terrorism Squad would arrive from Mumbai to interrogate the persons held.

The police first raided the house of Badrilal Devaji Chowdhury and then a magazine run and managed by him. They arrested three workers of the magazine — Kishan Chowdhury, Mohanlal Vaishnav and Jamnalal Vaishnav.

Badrilal is believed to be in Ratnagiri district and the police were expected to make more arrests.

The seizure assumes significance against the backdrop of the German Bakery blast in Pune, particularly because of the large quantities housed illegally and the fact that ammonium nitrate was used in the Pune blast. The ATS was investigating the blast case.

A case under the Explosives Act, Explosive Substances Act and the Indian Penal Code, pertaining to licensing issues with regard to possession of explosives and negligent conduct with respect to explosives, was registered against the accused.