Kerala CM's claims of state police excellence in train fire case laughable: Congress

The Congress leader contended it was surprising that the police conducted no checks on the train or at Kannur Railway Station and, despite the tragic loss of lives that shocked the state

Kerala CM's claims of state police excellence in train fire case laughable: Congress
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PTI

The opposition Congress in Kerala on Thursday termed as laughable Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's claim that the nabbing of the suspect in the train fire case indicated excellence of the state police.


Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly V D Satheesan alleged that instead of excellence in investigation, the police's actions in the case till now only indicated its "failure" and "lack of vigilance", which was "unpardonable".

He said that the CM's claim of police excellence in the case was a "hollow" statement, which would make the public laugh.

Satheesan claimed that the suspect, Shahrukh Saifi, had travelled till Kannur (more than an hour's distance from Kozhikode where the incident took place) on the same train in which he set fire to passengers on April 2, and on the next day he boarded the Ernakulam-Ajmer Marusagar Express from there.

The Congress leader contended it was surprising that the police conducted no checks on the train or at Kannur Railway Station and, despite the tragic loss of lives that shocked the state, not even an alert had been issued by the force.

"If a thorough search had been conducted at railway stations and other public places, the accused could have been taken into custody on the same day," he said, and added "Kerala police behaved extremely pathetically".

The police's actions amounted to providing an opportunity to the suspect to escape and cross the Kerala border, he said.

"It is an unpardonable mistake that the police failed to grasp the gravity of the incident. There was a big failure and lack of vigilance on the part of Kerala police," Satheesan said.


He said that all that Kerala Police did was to reach Ratnagiri in Maharashtra to take custody of the suspect and bring him back to Kozhikode, which too was not carried out smoothly as the SUV bringing Saifi by road got a flat tyre and lay on the roadside for over an hour waiting for a replacement vehicle.

"The lackadaisical manner in which the police handled the matter needs no further proof," the Congress leader said.

Vijayan, on Wednesday, had said that the apprehension of the assailant within three days of the incident indicated the investigative excellence of the Kerala Police and the cooperation received from various central and state agencies.

He had also congratulated all the police officers, who took part in the probe, and also the agencies, including Maharashtra ATS, central intelligence and the Railways, that cooperated in the investigation.

On the night of April 2, an unidentified man had set fire to passengers after pouring petrol on them when the train reached Korapuzha bridge near Elathur in Kozhikode. Nine people suffered burn injuries and are undergoing treatment at various hospitals.

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. Police believe they fell off the train or attempted to get down after seeing the fire.
A Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Kerala police was subsequently formed to investigate into the incident.

According to the police, the incident was probably pre-planned as the assailant was carrying the petrol in a bottle in his bag.

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