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Was it really a meteorite strike that claimed first human victim

| S V KRISHNA CHAITANYA
Published : Feb 9, 2016, 5:57 pm IST
Updated : Feb 9, 2016, 5:57 pm IST

Several astronomers have questioned the government's announcement which was made without any scientific backing.

Forensic experts and bomb detection squad looking for clues at the scene in Nattrampally in Vellore where  'meterorite' fell- DC
 Forensic experts and bomb detection squad looking for clues at the scene in Nattrampally in Vellore where 'meterorite' fell- DC

Several astronomers have questioned the government's announcement which was made without any scientific backing.

The curiosity surrounding the reported meteorite impact that brought the family of Kamraj, a bus driver of a private engineering college in Vellore, the dubious distinction of becoming the first human casualty of a meteorite fall in the planet, is still growing with many experts disputing the theory.

Things are getting murkier with the police and scientists from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, who are investigating the matter, remaining tight-lipped. Several astronomers are questioning the rationale behind the state government's announcement on the incident without any scientific backing.

Delhi-based astronomy expert Mr. C.B. Devgun, who is also the national coordinator-India for the ‘World Space Week” and has a personnel collection of meteorite samples, told the Deccan Chronicle that the first impression he gets seeing the 10 gram ‘dark bluish’ stone like object that the police reportedly recovered from the site is not a meteorite.

“I have travelled places and have been following astronomy for past three decades. I have never come across a meteorite sample that looks bluish in colour. It is unlikely that the thing that caused explosion in Vellore is a meteorite. These extraterrestrial objects usually disintegrate in the air and even if they manage to pass through the atmosphere their exterior look will be black and their density will be little heavier than the rocks found in the Earth and also some will be embedded with the metal as they get sliced in the atmosphere. I don’t see any of it in this tiny samples collected around the crater in Vellore”, he explained.

When contacted, a source in the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) director’s office in Bengaluru categorically said that clear instructions were given to the institute by the Tamil Nadu police not to disclose anything about the team of scientists that visited Vellore or the investigation details. “Our director is out of station and the team has already submitted the report to the Superintendent of Police Vellore”

Such level of secrecy about a matter that deals with pure science is puzzling the experts raising doubts whether the government made a mistake by hurriedly announcing the cause of explosion as a meteorite.

Dr. W. Selvamurthy, former chief controller of Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO), said the government should make the details of the investigations public and allow experts to thoroughly conduct the research. “No one can conclude unless there is a chemical analysis done. The postmortem report of the victim might also help ascertain the nature of the object that exploded and caused fatal injuries,” he said.

A professor of Centre of Astronomy in Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Indore also raised doubts about the theory and said it is extremely rare of such an event to take place. “Only proper testing of chemical and physical characteristics of the object will reveal its identity”, he said.