Kerala: Man who set co-passengers on fire charged with murder | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Kerala: Man who set co-passengers on fire charged with murder

By, Thiruvananthapuram
Apr 08, 2023 04:52 AM IST

The 27-year-old accused who, according to police, confessed to the crime, was also remanded in police custody for 11 days by a local court.

Kerala Police on Friday invoked murder charges against Shahrukh Saifi, who was arrested earlier this week in connection with a fire incident on board a Kannur-bound train that left three people dead, a senior police officer said.

National Investigation Agency officials inspect the Alappuzha-Kannur Executive Express train, in Kozhikode district. (PTI)
National Investigation Agency officials inspect the Alappuzha-Kannur Executive Express train, in Kozhikode district. (PTI)

The 27-year-old accused who, according to police, confessed to the crime, was also remanded in police custody for 11 days by a local court.

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“He (Saifi) has been booked under section 302 (murder) of Indian Penal Code in a case filed by railway police. After initial investigation, it was found that he was responsible for the death of three people, including a child,” a senior police officer of a special investigation team (SIT), formed by Kerala Police to probe the case, said.

The officer added that the accused may be booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) after the interrogation process is over. The National Investigation Agency is also investigating the case.

Additional director general of police M R Ajithkumar, who is supervising the SIT, said: “We have started questioning him. He has confessed to the crime and identified his bag recovered from the spot. We cannot divulge more at this juncture now.”

On Sunday, Saifi allegedly sprinkled petrol and set co-passengers of D-1 compartment on fire after the Alappuzha-Kannur Inter-City Express train left Kozhikode station at around 9.30pm. In the commotion, some passengers jumped from the running train; three people, including a child, died when they jumped out. Nine others sustained burn injuries.

Police later recovered a bag with a bottle of petrol and two mobile phones from railway tracks.

Saifi, who also suffered some burns, was caught on Wednesday in Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri district by the state’s anti-terror squad, following inputs from Kerala Police and central intelligence agencies. His motive behind the attack remains unclear.

Earlier on Friday, Kozhikode judicial first class magistrate S V Manesh visited the accused in Kozhikode medical college hospital, where he is undergoing treatment, and remanded him in judicial custody till April 28. Later in the day, the accused was sent to police custody for 11 days.

Doctors at the hospital said Saifi sustained 1% burn and the other injuries were due to his fall from the train while escaping.

The officer quoted above, who did not wish to be named, said the SIT has found several discrepancies in Saifi’s statement.

“Initially, he said he became a tool in somebody’s hand but later retracted his statement, saying everything was planned and executed by him only. It seemed as though he was trying to shield someone. He is yet to tell us about the motive behind the crime,” the officer said.

Police suspect the accused carried out the crime with the help of some local residents.

Saifi reportedly turned “extremely religious” in the last one year after he quit smoking and may have been radicalised by some terror outfits and sent to Kerala on a “terror mission”, the officer said.

The officer said it is suspected that the attack was a “suicide mission” but failed due to the timely intervention of the co-passengers. The location may have been picked to inflict maximum damage, the officer added.

“He later said he carried out the attack for good things to happen in the future,” the officer said.

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Meanwhile, a second SIT is camping in Delhi to take out more information about the accused. Saifi’s family, who stays in Shaheen Bagh, and his friends and relatives have already been questioned several times.

According to Delhi Police, Saifi’s family lodged a missing person complaint on April 2 and were not aware he was in Kerala.

Meanwhile, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan called on the families of the deceased in Mattannur in Kannur district. The government has already announced a relief of 5 lakh each to the kin of the deceased.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Ramesh Babu is HT’s bureau chief in Kerala, with about three decades of experience in journalism.

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