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Saturday, June 10, 2023

NIA gets custody of Elathur train arson suspect Saifi

On Friday, a National Investigation Agency (NIA) Special Court at Kochi granted the agency custody of Shahrukh Saifi. The terrorist is accused of conspiring and directly participating in the Elathur train arson case. Saifi will be in NIA custody between 2 May and 8 May.

NIA wanted him in their custody after Kerala police allegedly fudged the investigation due to political pressure from green communist leaders. NIA officials informed the court that it was necessary to identify the purpose of the terrorist act and to find Saifi’s handlers. The court moved the highly radicalized Islamist youth to the high-security facility in Viyyur, Thrissur.

24-year-old Saifi from Shaheen Bagh, Delhi, reached Kerala on 2 April and alighted at Shoranur, Palakkad. Allegedly, he met some people there who arranged clothes, mobile phones, and homemade food for him.

Saifi also purchased petrol from Shoranur and allegedly attended evening prayers at the local mosque. Saifi and other suspects boarded the 16307 Alappuzha – Kannur Executive Express. The terrorists waited until the train reached Elathur, Kozhikode. Two massive Hindustan Petroleum (HP) oil storage tanks are barely meters from the railway track.

He then doused fellow passengers in petrol and set them ablaze. His fellow terrorists allegedly pulled the emergency chain. By then, three passengers who jumped out of the running train to escape the flames died, while nine others sustained burn injuries.

One victim was just a year and a half old, and all three who died were Muslims from the same family. The Kerala government immediately convened a cabinet meeting and provided Rs 5 lakh financial assistance each to the next of kin of those who died in the incident. This was allegedly done at the instructions of radical Islamists to appease the Muslim community.

Railway Protection Force received inputs from central agencies and arrested Saifi under directions from Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad (ATS). He had boarded the Ajmer-bound Marusagar Express from Kannur and jumped out of the train when it reached Ratnagiri, Maharashtra. Allegedly, his accomplices intimated Saifi, and he jumped from the running train and injured himself.

Questions Remain

Kerala police released a sketch of the alleged assailant. It later turned out that the drawing bore little resemblance to Saifi. Questions about this character remain a mystery. Was he Saifi’s accomplice?

Kerala’s green communist rulers of Kerala hired a private vehicle and sent three policemen to bring the dangerous terror suspect to Kerala by road. They did not even consider flying him down. After the vehicle entered Kerala, it developed ‘car trouble’ thrice, and they used three different vehicles. Why didn’t CM Pinarayi Vijayan use a police vehicle?

One particular ‘journalist’ from the Marxist-run mouthpiece was given exclusive access to the terror suspect. Still, authorities tried their best to hide Saifi from public view. They even asserted he had jaundice and minor liver problems, but a few honest Kozhikode Government Medical College doctors rejected these claims.

While boarding from Delhi, Saifi had reservation tickets up to Kozhikode. Yet, he alighted at Shoranur. That train does not use the Konkan route but enters Kerala through Coimbatore, which means it reaches Shoranur before Kozhikode. Allegedly he alighted at Shoranur to mislead investigators.

By then, copious amounts had allegedly moved in and out of the ‘innocent’ carpenter’s bank accounts. Preliminary investigations found that Saif had used multiple SIM cards and contacted several handlers in Delhi and Mumbai. Suspicions were aroused when all those contacts on his call list were switched off and remained untraceable. Who are these terrorists?

Two days after the arson, it was also reported that the accused received a call from Palakkad. The cyber wing of the Kerala Police tracked the caller’s location, and a young man was taken into custody from Palakkad on the same day. Police claimed they conducted a detailed investigation regarding his background, but nothing suspicious was found, and they released him. Who was he?

After Saifi escaped in the Marusagar Express, someone pulled the emergency chain as soon as the train entered Maharashtra. Railway police informed their Kerala counterparts that a Rajasthan native, who boarded the train from Kochi, was the one who pulled the chain. A team immediately flew to Rajasthan, took the youth into custody, and claimed they subjected him to detailed questioning. Where is he now?

It was also discovered that Saifi’s phone was used by someone in Kerala earlier. It was operational even before the terrorist arrived in Kerala. This phone was utilized in Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Thrissur, and Palakkad districts. Who used the device?

For two weeks, the communist regime refused to slap Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) charges against the terrorist. They also delayed taking Saifi for evidence collection.

By then, central intelligence agencies tracking Saifi confirmed that certain terror groups, including Zakir Naik, mentored and radicalized him. This forced the local green communist leaders to assign UAPA. Such cases are automatically transferred to central investigating agencies, and suspects can be moved to other states. Why did the local communists squander this crucial one-month period?

Two days ago, IG P Vijayan, who headed Kerala Police’s anti-terrorist squad (ATS), was removed from his charge. He was directing the Elathur train arson case investigations. Interestingly, it was reported that the reason for the change was an internal dispute in the state police force.

At this crucial juncture, the communist regime had not found a replacement, and the explanations for the IG’s removal seemed queer. Who are these four CITU contract employees who cost an Inspector General his position? Why was an anti-terrorism chief handling the printing of lottery tickets? Was his role in defending national security undermined?

Immediately after Saifi’s second arrival in Kerala, Kerala police released his photos through a particular TV Channel. Experts considered it a severe failure since it nullified the impending identification parade, which is crucial for any investigation. How Saifi’s bag was opened in full public view, and the contents emptied on the railway tracks would have embarrassed any police force.

Kerala police could not or would not arrest those who assisted Saifi in Kerala but promptly left for Delhi to ‘investigate.’ Allegedly, they came back empty-handed. Though the sequence of events seemed blotched up, there were allegations that the whole drama was well-pre-planned.

The NIA custody application revealed that Saifi had purchased petrol and a cigarette lighter to cause a fire on the train. The evidence collected so far pointed towards a terrorist act, it added. Several questions remain unanswered and further details are awaited.

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