A series of blasts at a Sunday prayer convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses killed one woman and injured more than forty people, some critically, in Kochi, in India’s Kerala state.
“Today morning at 9:40 am approximately, there was an explosion at Zamra International Convention Centre, Kalamassery, in which one person died,” Kerala DGP Shaik Darvesh Saheb said. “An IED device might have been placed inside a tiffin box according to the preliminary investigation. More details will be received after further probe.”
He urged the public to maintain calm and peace and not to engage in any kind of social media campaigns.
Eyewitnesses told media that the blasts happened in the middle of the convention centre, where around 2,500 people from across the state had gathered. The first of the explosions occurred minutes after the day’s prayer session began. The weekend convention began on Friday and was to end on Sunday.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the media the incident was unfortunate and the police have taken it very seriously. “Senior officials, including the state DGP, have moved to Kochi. Among the injured, the condition of two is serious,” he said.
The police is questioning a man who surrendered after the homemade bombs exploded. After initial questioning, the native of the city of Kochi, who surrendered in the southern state’s Thrissur district, will be interrogated in detail by a senior police official.
Identifying himself as Dominic Martin in a social media video, which was aired on various TV channels, the man alleged that he took the decision as the teachings of the organisation were ‘seditious’. In the video, Martin says, “I take responsibility for the blast. I am posting this video to convince you why I have done it. I had been a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses for the last 16 years. I was not very serious about my faith. I realised that their stand is anti-national and wanted them to rectify it. But they were not ready for it. I could understand this is a wrong ideology. They inject poison into the brains of children that they should not take even a sweet from others. They are asked not to sing the national anthem or join the defence service. They teach that all people of the world would perish and only they will live. What should we do with the people who long for the ruin of the entire people in the world? I could not find a solution.”
Kerala Minister P Rajeev told a press conference, “Police are conducting the investigation…we can only reach some conclusions after a thorough investigation. Efforts are underway to save the lives of all the injured. CM Pinarayi Vijayan has called an all-party meeting tomorrow…everyone must refrain from fake social media campaigns…Kerala always faces such situations with unity…”
Kerala health minister Veena George said, “We have constituted 14 members medical board that is monitoring the entire situation. We have 18 patients currently in ICU. They are all stable, but two patients including a 12-year-old girl who has got 95% burns and a 53-year-old woman who has got 90% burns. A total of 6 people are critically ill.”
The situation is under control and the police and other agencies are investigating it, Ernakulam District Collector NSK Umesh told Reuters.
“Investigation is taking its course, and we ensuring that everyone is getting the best medical treatment.”
The state, its airports and railway stations are on high alert, after the incident.
(Agencies; Picture Courtesy: PTI)