Kerala police hunt for man who started fire in moving train; toddler among three killed

Nine persons on board the Alappuzha-Kannur Executive Express sustained burns in the Sunday night horror incident.

BySreerag PS

Published Apr 03, 2023 | 10:40 AMUpdatedApr 03, 2023 | 9:59 PM

Kozhikode train fire

A police hunt is underway for an unidentified man, who set a compartment of a moving express train on fire and fled in Kerala’s Kozhikode district late on Sunday, 2 April.

Three people, including a year-old child and a woman, were later found beside the railway tracks near the Elathur railway station.

Nine other passengers sustained injuries in the incident. The deceased trio were also travelling on the same train.

The three were missing from the train after the fire incident, news agencies quoted a senior police officer as saying.

The 16307 Alappuzha-Kannur Executive Express train was nearing the bridge on Korappuzha after Kozhikode when the incident occurred around 9.45 pm.

The unidentified man in a red shirt doused a passenger with an inflammable liquid and set him on fire, police said. The suspect escaped soon after the incident when the passengers pulled the emergency chain to stop the train.

The police said the nine people, who suffered burns, were shifted to various hospitals, including the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital. Further details are awaited.

The train later continued its journey to Kannur.

DGP rushes to Kannur

Taking serious cognisance of the incident, the state police chief, DGP Anil Kant left for Kannur on Monday, 3 April.

“IG North Zone is directly supervising the investigation. The police have got some clues and a scientific investigation is underway,” Kant told reporters.

“We are forming an SIT (Special Investigation Team). The case will be solved quickly and the culprits will be identified soon as we have some more clues. I am going to Kannur now, I will discuss with other officers and share the details of SIT with the media,” he added before leaving for Kannur.

A sketch of the suspect is also prepared by the police. The police asked the public to share the leads, if any, regarding the suspect by calling the helpline number 112.

What happened on train?

When the train reached Kannur, a few passengers complained that a woman and a child were missing after the incident.

“A man, who had suffered burns, kept searching for a woman and a child. We found footwear and a mobile phone of that woman,” a passenger told the media at Kannur.

“A man wearing a shirt similar to red colour entered the D1 compartment. He had two bottles of petrol with him,” the passenger said.

“He opened a bottle and threw petrol on the passengers before lighting the fire. I left the scene immediately as my hair was on fire, which I managed to douse. Nobody was expecting it. There was panic in the compartment,” he told reporters.

Soon after the police were alerted of the missing woman and child, a search was launched and their bodies and that of a middle-aged man were found by the tracks.

The police suspect they had fallen off the train or attempted to alight on seeing the fire.

Also read: KAAPA accused sets vehicles ablaze at police station

CCTV visuals of suspect found

“The missing woman and child were found dead on the tracks. There is one unidentified body of a male. We have found CCTV visuals of the suspect. An investigation is on,” a senior district police officer said.

Sources later said the woman was the child’s aunt. The deceased man was identified as Naufeeq, aged 41.

According to reports all three deceased were from Mattannur in the Kannur district.

Naufeeq’s brother told reporters that he was returning after attending a Ramzan-related event.

Speaking to South First, Kozhikode MP MK Raghavan said he has been following up on the issue and sought further time to respond.

South First’s calls to the Railway Police Force and Kozhikode District Collector went unanswered.

(With PTI inputs. The report has been updated with the DGP’s quote).