On October 29, a series of explosions rocked an event organized by Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Christian-based religious movement in Kerala. The incident occurred in Kalamassery town, where over 2,000 followers had gathered for a three-day event. Preliminary investigations suggest that the blasts may have been caused by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) concealed inside a tiffin box.
Jehovah’s Witnesses Event
The death toll from these explosions has now risen to three, with the unfortunate passing of a 12-year-old girl who succumbed to severe burn injuries during treatment on Oct 30. The young girl, a resident of the Ernakulam district, had suffered extensive burns, and despite receiving extensive medical care, her condition deteriorated, ultimately leading to her demise.
The incident unfolded at the Zamra International Convention and Exhibition Centre, where Jehovah’s Witness followers had congregated for their annual event. Two women, Leona (aged 55) and Kumari (aged 53), lost their lives in the explosions, while 52 others sustained injuries as a result of improvised explosive device (IED) blasts that occurred at the venue. These tragic events took place around 9:30 am on the final day of a three-day zonal conference of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, an organization with a significant following in Kerala.
A man named Dominic Martin surrendered to the police hours after the explosions, claiming responsibility for the heinous acts. In a live social media video, Martin declared himself a member of the Christian sect and alleged that he was reacting against the group as he believed were anti-national and seditious teachings. Martin claimed that his discontent with the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ teachings had been growing for the past six years, and he had attempted to persuade them to cease the promotion of hatred and sedition.
He said, “I asked them several times to correct their ways. But they were not ready to do it.”
The explosions have put authorities across the country on high alert, prompting the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and National Security Guard teams to respond swiftly to the scene. The blasts occurred while nearly 2,500 people were in prayer, filling the convention center with smoke.
Initial investigations into the blasts suggest the use of a timer-based low-intensity IED, with batteries and wires recovered at the scene indicating the use of a timer. A forensic examination is expected to provide further details about the type of explosive employed. The IED was strategically placed near an oil container, exacerbating the fire.
Police are presently questioning Martin and examining evidence related to his involvement in the explosions. A preliminary First Information Report did not specify a suspect.
Consequently, Kerala’s Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, has promised a comprehensive investigation and called for an all-party meeting to discuss the situation. In response to the incident, security measures have been tightened in various cities across India, including the capital city of Delhi and Mumbai.
The tragic events in Kerala have sent shockwaves throughout the nation, and further developments are anticipated as the investigation unfolds.