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Kerala train fire accused Shahrukh Saifi charged with murder

Apr 07, 2023 04:31 PM IST

The 27-year-old accused sustained burn injuries after he allegedly sprayed petrol at the co-passengers on Sunday inside the train. According to the police, the incident happened in the D1 compartment of Alappuzha-Kannur Express, also known as Executive Express, at 9.45pm on Sunday between Elathur and Koyilandi railway stations

Kerala train fire case accused Shahrukh Saifi has been slapped with murder charges (Section 302 of IPC [Indian Penal Code]), officials said.

NIA officials inspect the Alappuzha-Kannur Executive Express train after fire incident (PTI Photo)
NIA officials inspect the Alappuzha-Kannur Executive Express train after fire incident (PTI Photo)

Earlier on Friday, district sessions judge S V Manesh reached the Kozhikode medical college hospital, where Saifi is undergoing treatment for injuries and remanded him to judicial custody till April 28. From here, he will be moved to the medical cell of the district jail.

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A senior police official said the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) could be slapped only after interrogating him. The official said Saifi was charged with murder in a case filed by the railway police.

Also Read: Dehradun: High-level probe ordered into Tyuni fire incident, official suspended

Saifi, a native of Delhi, is accused of triggering a fire onboard a train which led to the death of three, including a child.

The 27-year-old accused sustained burn injuries after he allegedly sprayed petrol at the co-passengers on Sunday inside the train. According to the police, the incident happened in the D1 compartment of Alappuzha-Kannur Express, also known as Executive Express, at 9.45pm on Sunday between Elathur and Koyilandi railway stations.

He was arrested by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of Maharashtra police and Central Intelligence on Wednesday and was brought to Kozhikode in north Kerala from Ratnagiri in Maharashtra on Thursday.

Earlier, the SIT formed by the Kerala Police conducted a forensic examination inside the coaches and collected evidence. Police said they recovered a bag with a bottle of petrol, two mobile phones, a lunch box, and a pair of clothes. The last call from one of the phones was made on March 30. The bodies of a woman, an infant, and a man were recovered from the tracks near the Elathur railway station late on Sunday night, police said.

According to the SIT, Saifi provided contradictory statements while being questioned. “Initially, he said he became a tool in somebody’s hand and later retracted saying, everything was planned and executed by him only. It seems he was trying to shield someone,” said a senior official of the SIT, adding that only sustained custodial interrogation will unravel the plot.

Officials suspect that he received help from locals and some handlers to carry out the incident while being monitored by someone. Officials also suspect it was “a suicide mission” that fizzled out due to the timely intervention of train passengers.

Meanwhile, another SIT team is camping in Delhi to investigate the background of the accused and his association with individuals and organisations.

Also Read: 3 die as man sets co-passengers on fire in Kerala train: Police

According to the official quoted above, Saifi got “extremely religious” in the last one year and he may have been radicalised by some outfits and sent to Kerala on a “terror mission”.

Delhi police and SIT have questioned Saifi’s parents, relatives and friends several times. It is also being claimed that Saifi went missing from home since March 30, and his parents filed a missing complaint on Saturday.

His call details and CCTV footage of the area (Shabeenbagh in Delhi) were also scanned, said police.

Meanwhile, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday called on the families of the deceased in Kannur district where he announced a relief of 5 lakh each to survivors of the families.

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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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