In a joint operation carried out by the Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) and Central agencies, the main suspect in this week’s Kozhikode train fire incident, Shahrukh Saifi, 24, was nabbed from Ratnagiri railway station in Maharashtra around midnight on April 4.
Mr. Saifi, a resident of Shaheen Bagh in Delhi working as a small-time carpenter in neighbouring Noida in Uttar Pradesh, has been accused of pouring an inflammable liquid on fellow passengers and setting them on fire on the Alappuzha-Kannur Executive Express near Elathur in Kozhikode on Sunday night. The tragic incident had resulted in the deaths of three people who jumped off the train to escape the fire and nine passengers with burn injuries.
Caught after escape
The police said that Mr. Saifi had suffered burns in the incident and had also sustained injuries to his forehead after falling from a train near Khed in the Ratnagiri area while attempting to escape to Ajmer. Local residents had taken him to a primary health centre and later shifted him to Ratnagiri Civil District Hospital on Monday, but he had escaped from the hospital the next day.
However, the Maharashtra ATS, with the help of the Railway Protection Force, has captured him. The accused was handed over to a Special Investigation Team of the Kerala Police, who had reached Ratnagiri, and will be brought to Kannur on Thursday.
‘Acted on instructions’
Police sources alleged that Mr. Saifi had confessed to the crime but claimed that he had acted on the instructions of someone else. The Central agencies are in the process of checking his background to determine if he was self-indoctrinated or had any association with any outfits.
The National Investigation Agency and the Maharashtra ATS have questioned him so far. Kerala Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order), M.R. Ajith Kumar said that only further investigation can reveal the motive behind the attack and whether any other persons were involved in the crime.
Sources said that the probe team had tracked the accused’s phone and diary details before apprehending him at Ratnagiri. The Kerala police had also released a composite sketch of the accused, prepared with the help of an eyewitness. Meanwhile, when a team from the Kerala police visited Mr. Shaifi’s residence at Shaheen Bagh to confirm his identity, his father informed the police that his son had been missing since March 31.