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One year of Coimbatore car blast | Residents recall an explosion that woke them up to a terror-stricken day

October 23, 2023 12:22 am | Updated October 24, 2023 03:39 pm IST - COIMBATORE

A police patrol vehicle in front of Sangameswarar temple at Kottaimedu in Coimbatore on October 22, 2023

A police patrol vehicle in front of Sangameswarar temple at Kottaimedu in Coimbatore on October 22, 2023 | Photo Credit: S. Siva Saravanan

Like many others in the city, M. Vetrivel, who runs a grocery shop close to Sangameswarar temple at Kottaimedu in Coimbatore, was all set to celebrate Deepavali on October 24, 2022. But on Sunday, a day before Deepavali, a car laden with explosives exploded in front of the temple, less than 50 metres from his shop and house above, striking terror.

“I was off to Podanur and I rushed back home after hearing from my brother about the explosion. The area was cordoned off and police personnel were everywhere. Nobody in the neighbourhood thought such a terror strike would happen here,” he said.

Vetrivel’s brother M. Sundar was among the first to reach the site after the explosion, which took place at 4.03 a.m. Mr. Sundar woke up hearing two explosions and he ran towards the temple.

“Flames from the car reached as high as the branches of the banyan tree, charring its leaves. It continued burning till the firemen reached and doused it. A few policemen were there. After the fire was extinguished, I went close to the car and saw the body of a man. Seeing the LPG cylinders in the car, I thought it was a cylinder explosion,” he recalled.  According to Mr. Sundar, nails used by the attacker as shrapnel reached his house.

Besides Mr. Sundar, Senthil Kannan, an Aavin milk agent, and the security guard of the warehouse of a textile showroom were among the first people to reach the spot.

A woman, who runs an ironing shop a few metres away from the explosion site, said her family was shell-shocked hearing about the blast in the morning.

Sub-inspector R. Selvarajan, head constable Deva Kumar and constable Pandiya Raja of the Ukkadam station, who were manning a temporary checkpoint around 80 metres off the temple, were the first police personnel who reached the explosion site. It was Mr. Selvarajan who alerted the police control room and the fire and rescue services.

By afternoon, the police identified the suicide bomber as Jameesha Mubin (29), who lived with his wife and two children some 350 metres off the temple. The Coimbatore City Police arrested six persons in the case before the National Investigation Agency (NIA) took over the investigation on October 27 and went on to arrest seven more men. The agency chargesheeted six accused on April 20, 2023 and filed a supplementary chargesheet against five others on June 2.  

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