The anti-terror federal probe agency NIA on Saturday said it has filed a charge sheet against sole accused Sharukh Saifi in Kerala’s Kozhikode train arson case, in which three passengers, including a child, were killed and nine others injured.
A senior NIA official said 27-year-old accused Sharukh had been charged under various sections of Indian Penal Code (IPC), Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act – UA(P)A, Railways Act and Prevention of Damage to Public Property (PDPP) Act.
The official said in the charge sheet Sharukh was accused of committing the terror act by setting the D1 Coach of Alappuzha- Kannur Executive Express on fire on April 2, 2023.
“The NIA Chargesheet says Sharukh, the sole accused in the gory case, had thrown and sprinkled Petrol on the passengers and set the bogey on fire with a lighter with the intention to kill people,” he alleged quoting the charge sheet.
A resident of Shaheen Bagh, New Delhi, Sharukh had boarded the moving Alappuzha- Kannur Executive Express, committed the terror act, and continued to travel in the same train till Kannur, before escaping to Ratnagiri, Maharashtra, from where he was eventually arrested, the official said.
The investigation conducted by the NIA revealed that Sharukh had travelled to Kerala from New Delhi on March 31, 2023 and reached the southern state on April 2, the official said, adding that the accused purchased petrol from a Petrol bunk in Shoranur and a lighter from a nearby store at Shoranur Railway Station.
“The NIA investigations show that Sharukh had chosen Kerala for the act of terror and arson as he wanted to commit his Jihadi act in a location where he would not be recognised. He had intended to return to normal life after the commission of the act, aimed at creating terror in the minds of the general public,” the official said.
The accused was self-radicalised through various online propaganda material available on social media in favour of violent extremism and Jihad, as propagated by radical Islamic preachers of Indian and foreign nationalities. In this process, he followed radical and hardline Islamic Preachers including those who are Pakistan-based, on social media platforms. He had committed the arson as “a Jihadi terror act” in pursuance of the online radicalisation.
The case was initially registered at Kozhikode Railway Police Station in Kerala, and was subsequently investigated by the state’s Special Investigation Team. On April 17, the NIA took over the investigations following a direction given to it by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
During the course of its investigations, NIA conducted searches in 10 locations in Delhi and seized digital devices. Several witnesses were questioned and CCTV footage from the Railway Station were also seized, the official said.