Kerala train fire: NIA team lands; probe begins into possible terror link

The SIT formed by the Kerala Police carried out a forensic examination inside the coaches and collected evidence. Police have already released a computer-generated sketch of the suspect

Kerala train fire
Picture for representation purpose

National Investigation Agency (NIA) officials on Tuesday landed in Kerala where three persons were killed and several others sustained burn injuries after an unidentified man poured petrol on the passengers inside the compartment of a moving train and set them afire on Sunday night.

Senior officials of various investigating agencies, including the NIA and the Railway Protection Force (RPF) also inspected the coaches of the Alappuzha-Kannur Express. Investigating agencies have also reportedly started an investigation into possible terror links to the attack. The hunt for the absconding accused is still on.

Meanwhile, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Kerala Police has intensified its probe into the incident and was verifying information about the suspect in the case, police said.

Also read: Kerala: Man sets co-passenger on fire aboard train, 3 injured

Substantial info on suspect: Police

ADGP (Law and Order) MR Ajith Kumar said the investigating team had received information regarding the culprit and was verifying it. “We have received substantial information regarding the culprit in our preliminary probe. We have to verify the information. The probe is in the preliminary stage. We can’t divulge much about it now,” Kumar told the media.

Meanwhile, a high-level meeting of senior officials of the government, RPF and Kerala Police was held in Kannur on Tuesday to evaluate the progress of the investigation.

Railways to boost security at stations

RPF IG GM Easwara Rao also inspected the coaches of the train which is parked at Kannur station and said the railway would consider setting up more CCTV cameras at stations and in coaches with an aim to strengthen security.

“We are reviewing the security gaps. Planning to install CCTVs in more stations. We need to install more CCTV even in small stations too,” Rao said. The RPF was cooperating with the state police investigation into the attack and would provide all assistance, he added.

SIT collects evidence from coaches

Earlier, the SIT formed by the Kerala Police carried out a forensic examination inside the coaches and collected evidence. Police have already released a computer-generated sketch of the person, who is suspected to have poured petrol on passengers inside the compartment and set them afire.

The incident occurred around 9.45 pm on Sunday when the train reached the Korapuzha railway bridge in Kannur after crossing Kozhikode city. An unidentified man set fire to passengers after pouring petrol on them when the train reached Korapuzha Bridge near Elathur. Nine people suffered burn injuries and are undergoing treatment at various hospitals.

Also read: Three found dead on railway track after train fire incident in Kerala’s Kozhikode

The bodies of a woman, an infant, and a man, who went missing from the train after the fire, were recovered from the tracks near the Elathur railway station, late on Sunday night. Police believe they fell off the train or attempted to get down after seeing the fire.

Initially, it was believed that the incident was the outcome of an altercation between the accused and another passenger. Subsequently, police and a passenger present in the compartment said the accused did not have any altercation with anyone. He poured an inflammable liquid, believed to be petrol, on the passengers and set them on fire, resulting in burn injuries to nine people.

The accused is suspected to have escaped when the train slowed down after someone pulled the emergency chain.

UP ATS questions man, releases later

In a related development, a man was held for questioning by the Uttar Pradesh Police in connection with the incident, but was released later, a senior official said on Tuesday.

The Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) of the UP Police had held the man named Shahrukh for questioning in Bulandshahr based on a tip-off. The police team swooped in a house in Akbarabad under Syana police station area and took Shahrukh for questioning on Monday night, a senior official of the ATS told PTI. He was released after questioning, the official said.

Shahrukh’s father Yameen claimed his son was at home for the past two months. He works as a carpenter in the district and has studied till class 10th, Yameen added. He said police had taken Shahrukh from home on Monday night and later he came to know he was released.