Kannur, June 02, 2023: The Kannur railway police, who nabbed accused Pushanjit Singh in West Bengal on Thursday for allegedly torching a coach of the Alappuzha-Kannur Executive Express, confirmed that fingerprints collected from the coach matched with him.
"Of the 10 fingerprints collected from the train coach which was gutted in a fire, a forensic team confirmed that four belonged to Pushanjit, said police as quoted by Onmanorama. The man reportedly claimed he is a beggar.
A coach of an express train which halted at the Kannur railway station in Kerala caught fire in the wee hours of Thursday.
In April, a similar incident occurred on the Alappuzha-Kannur Executive Express when a man set fire to his co-passengers, which resulted in three deaths, including a toddler. This led to speculation that it might be a case of sabotage.
Central agencies like the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrived at the scene on Friday and are investigating all angles, including that of sabotage, sources said.
The fire was noticed by some station staff at around 1:30 am and they informed the Kannur Fire and Rescue Station, which dispatched four units to deal with the blaze. The fire was contained around 3:15 am, a fire rescue officer said.
The train was stationary on track 20-30 metres away from the platform and around 100 metres from a nearby Bharat Petroleum fuel depot, a fire rescue officer said, adding that one of its coaches was completely engulfed in flames.
The incident occurred after all the passengers had deboarded and no one was injured, an officer of RPS Kannur said.
Visuals showed huge flames coming out of the windows of the coach with thick plumes of smoke rising into the air.
Kerala govt faces flak from opposition
The incident also kicked off harsh criticism of the ruling Left government in the state by the opposition Congress and the BJP.
Leader of Opposition in the state assembly, VD Satheesan, said the government and the police were not dealing with such matters seriously and demanded a proper probe into the reasons behind such incidents.
It has created "insecurity" in the minds of the people, and the state government needs to intervene and take steps to strengthen the safety and security measures, he said.
Satheesan also blamed the police for its alleged lack of seriousness in dealing with such cases, saying it was apparent from how the Elathur train arson incident of April 2 was handled by the Kerala Police.
Stating that if the alleged "carelessness" on the part of the police continued, things would reach a dangerous situation, he said and demanded a serious probe into the reasons behind the recurrence of such train fire incidents.
Chairman of Indian Railways’ Passenger Amenities Committee (PAC) PK Krishnadas on Thursday said such incidents have created fear and anxiety among the people, especially those travelling by train, and questioned why it was happening "again and again" in Kerala.
The PAC is an organisation under the Railway Ministry that checks whether passenger amenities are provided on trains and at stations.
Krishnadas, also the national executive member of the BJP, said investigative agencies suspected the involvement of several people behind the latest incident. "People need to understand that it was not a coincidence but a planned conspiracy which all points to sabotage," he claimed.
BJP’s Kerala unit president K Surendran slammed the state government and asserted that there was peace in the state due to efforts of the Centre and its agencies, "as otherwise the state would have been burnt to ashes by extremist and terror groups".
The "Kerala (government) has sacrificed national security for the vote bank," he alleged.
Surendran further claimed that such incidents indicated that religious extremists and terror groups are very active in Kerala, as the state government was allegedly not taking steps to root out them.
"The reason is the huge vote bank that such organisations have," he alleged.
On April 2, three people, including a baby, died in a train arson incident in Kozhikode district, sending shockwaves across the country. On that day, accused Shahrukh Saifi had set his co-passengers on fire onboard the Alappuzha-Kannur Executive Express when it reached Korapuzha bridge near Elathur in Kozhikode.
Courtesy: India Today