Dominic Martin charged under UAPA; one more woman dies

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Dominic Martin; visuals from the convention centre after the blast. Photo: Manorama

Kochi: Kerala police on Sunday confirmed that Kadavanthra native Dominic Martin planted the bomb which went off at a convention centre in Kalamassery in the morning. Police found visuals of the remote control used to detonate the IED on Dominic's phone.

A member of the Jehovah's Witnesses himself, Dominic Martin confessed to the crime and his motivation for the same on Facebook Live, which he posted before surrendering at Kodakara police station. In the video, Dominic said despite multiple requests to the Christian denomination to change its ways which promote hatred, they refused to do so. Hence, he decided to plant a bomb at the convention.
Police booked Dominic Martin under the UAPA, among other grave charges. 

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    Kumari suffered over 90% burn injuries in the explosion

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Meanwhile, the death toll in the explosion went up to two. Kumari (53), of Kalathil house at Kaliyar near Thodupuzha, succumbed to her burn injuries in the evening. She suffered over 90 per cent burns in the explosion. Kumari had been attending the convention for the past two days. She is survived by her sons Sreerag, Sreeraj, and daughter-in-law Divya.

Police had tightened security across the state after suspecting terrorist involvement in the IED blast. Around 52 people were injured in the blast. The IED was reportedly placed in tiffin boxes inside the hall where a prayer meeting of Jehovah's Witnesses was underway on Sunday morning.

A 14-member medical board has been formed to ensure expert treatment for the injured. Health department directors and expert doctors of Kottayam, Thrissur and Kalamassery medical colleges are part of the board.

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Minister P Rajeeve chairs a meeting at Kalamassery MCH to discuss the situation of the patients. Ministers V Abdurahiman, V N Vasavan, K Rajan, P Prasad, K Krishnankutty, collector NSK Umesh and MCH superintendent Ganesh Mohan attended the meet. Photo: Special Arrangement

Earlier, Kannur police took a man into custody after finding suspicious items in his bag. The Jharkhand native was reportedly on his way to Areekode from Mangaluru. He was, however, let go after interrogation. 

In Kozhikode, police, with the help of a bomb squad, checked the Palayam and Mofusil bus stands and Muthalakkulam Maidan. Railway Protection Force and the dog squad conducted a security check at Kozhikode Railway station.

Earlier, addressing the media, the state police chief Shaik Darvesh Saheb warned people against spreading unconfirmed news on social media. He said the police would take strict action against those found spreading fake news.

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Health Minister Veena George comforts a child during her visit to Kalamassery Medical College. Photo: Special Arrangement

A full team of NIA, an anti-terrorist squad and an eight-member National Security Guard team reached Kochi to look into the terror angle. 

Blast survivors told Onmanorama that over 2,000 people were at the convention centre when the explosion happened. The IED went off soon after the attendees of the event started a prayer with their eyes closed.

However, the gravity of the tragedy was reduced as they had an evacuation plan ready to face any accident, survivors said.

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Ministers VN Vasavan, Antony Raju and K Rajan at Kalamassery medical college. Photo: Special Arrangement

“During all of our meets, we are given information as to how to get out of the hall in case of an emergency. It was followed to an extent here also. When a bomb blast happens, nobody would be able to follow such a protocol fully,” T J Mathew from Muvattupuzha said. 

Sunny Scaria from Kothamangalam said the evacuation plan helped them reduce the gravity of the casualties. “We removed the clothes of the people who had caught fire immediately and we were also trained to use the fire extinguishers in the hall. 

The police have opened a control room for the attendees to contact them. The control room number is 0484 242 3513.

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