Elathur residents in shock after train arson incident raises questions on safety and on motive of attack

The unprecedented nature of the incident has also left people apprehensive of the state-of-affairs

April 03, 2023 10:07 pm | Updated April 05, 2023 10:07 am IST - KOZHIKODE

Police on Monday inspecting the train that came under attack. It is currently stationed at the Kannur railway station.

Police on Monday inspecting the train that came under attack. It is currently stationed at the Kannur railway station.

The aftermath of the shocking train arson incident at Elathur, near here, continues to send shock waves through the small town situated on the banks of Korapuzha.

An unidentified man on Sunday threw petrol on passengers on board the Alappuzha-Kannur Executive Express (16307) around 9.20 p.m. and later set fire inside the compartment they were in. When this happened, it was the local people who responded immediately. Some of them were near the Korapuzha bridge when they heard cries coming from the train.

“We rushed to the spot as news also began spreading like wildfire that something had gone wrong on the train. A few hours later, three bodies were found on the tracks. This really upset us,” said Baijunath, an Elathur resident, recalling the event.

The news of the fire incident on the train has shocked not just the Elathur residents but people across the State ever since the news of the arson broke out on Sunday night. Speculation is rife on the attacker’s motive and also on a bag that was found abandoned on the railway tracks. It is being suspected that the bag was left there with an intention to mislead the police.

The unprecedented nature of the incident has also left people apprehensive of the state-of-affairs. “Forget Kerala, no similar incident has ever happened in the country. Never has a terror act occurred inside a moving vehicle,” former Kozhikode Rural police chief T.K. Rajmohan, who led several investigations linked to terror attacks, told The Hindu.

Forensic experts examining a shirt and other articles reportedly abandoned by the suspect who set the train on fire near Elathur on Sunday

Forensic experts examining a shirt and other articles reportedly abandoned by the suspect who set the train on fire near Elathur on Sunday | Photo Credit: K. Ragesh

“The bomb blasts I have investigated never directly affected the public, except for the twin blast case in Kozhikode city,“ Mr. Rajmohan said.

At 9.12 p.m., the train left the Kozhikode railway station with only a few passengers in the compartments. The train did not stop at Elathur but the incident occurred as soon as the train passed the station.

According to passengers on the D1 coach, a man in a red shirt and cap attacked without provocation, pouring fuel on passengers and setting them on fire. The passengers ran amok, some escaping to nearby compartments. Three of them who jumped off the train in panic were later discovered dead. Some passengers attempted to put out the fire and rescue the injured. Those in nearby compartments were unaware of what was happening and halted the train by pulling the chain.

The primary mystery now revolves around the abandoned bag found near the railway track, which contains petrol, clothing, notes, and other items, as well as a mobile phone.

Nine burn victims received treatment at various hospitals in Kozhikode.

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