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Updated: March 23, 2013 12:55 IST

Self-immolation: cops clueless about victim’s identity

Special Correspondent
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The scene where a youth had set himself ablaze after a failed attempt to set the petrol pumps on fire at the busy Goripalayam junction in Madurai on Monday. Photo: R. Ashok
The scene where a youth had set himself ablaze after a failed attempt to set the petrol pumps on fire at the busy Goripalayam junction in Madurai on Monday. Photo: R. Ashok

A dagger tattoo became visible on the body once the charred skin started to peel away

Madurai City police are clueless about the identity of the youth who immolated himself at a petrol pump in Goripalayam junction on Monday.

The police have made no headway in establishing the identity of the person even after four days, despite having alerted the neighbouring district police with the photographs of the body. Posters carrying the photographs of the body which were pasted at vantage points in the city have not produced a result so far.

But police say they are certain the youth did not take his life for the cause of Tamils in Sri Lanka, against a backdrop of unrelenting agitations over the issue over the past week. “Neither he raised slogans nor did we recover any literature from his possession. In such circumstances, we cannot associate his death with the Sri Lankan issue,” Commissioner of Police Sanjay Mathur says.

The police suspect the victim may have been of unsound mind. “It is because there is a Dargah nearby where mentally challenged persons are brought for treatment. It is only an assumption for our investigation purpose. Shopkeepers had seen him roaming around in the area. Still, his identity could not be established,” Mr. Mathur adds.

That he had been noticed in the locality and had undergone circumcision led the police to presume that he could be a Muslim, though the Commissioner admits that even non-Muslims are known to opt for the procedure on medical grounds.

The police are working on leads such as : the youth was wearing a pair of jeans, a branded monkey cap and a popular brand of inner wear. But on Thursday, a tattoo of the image of a dagger was noticed on his bicep, which had escaped attention initially.

The tattoo became visible once the charred skin started to peel away.

The police believe that the tattoo could play a vital role in establishing his identity. The police are not ruling out the possibility of sabotage, though they claimed that it was very premature to jump to any conclusion. “Only when the identity of the person becomes clear, his motive could be probed further,” he said.

As a precautionary measure, the police have alerted owners of petrol pumps in the city to check whether the fire extinguishers they have are in working condition to deal with such emergencies in future. The police have advised them against selling petrol in cans.

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