Tragedy struck Kerala late Sunday as an unidentified person set fire to co-passengers aboard the Alappuzha-Kannur Executive Express, resulting in the deaths of three passengers, including a two-year-old boy.
Eight other passengers sustained burn injuries, and three victims were found dead on a railway track early Monday morning. The incident occurred around 9:45 pm when the train was about to cross the Korapuzha bridge between Kozhikode and Kannur stretch.
The police believe that the three victims might have jumped out of the train in panic when the fire broke out in the compartment. Eyewitnesses reported that the assailant, carrying two bottles containing inflammable material, entered a reserved coach minutes after the train left the Kozhikode railway station.
The suspect then sprayed fuel on the co-passengers and set them on fire without any provocation. The attacker then escaped as panic-stricken passengers ran to other compartments. The train was eventually stopped on a bridge across the Korapuzha River after someone pulled the alarm chain. The train resumed its journey after two compartments were sealed.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who also holds the home portfolio, expressed shock at the incident and announced the formation of a special investigation team to probe the matter. State police chief Anil Kanth will oversee the investigation, and the government has promised to take necessary steps to ensure the safety of rail passengers. The Union Ministry of Railways will also be requested to strengthen the safety of rail passengers.
The police have intensified their efforts to catch the perpetrator, and several leads are being pursued. The incident has sent shockwaves across the state, with many expressing their condolences to the families of the victims.