Dominic Martin bought bomb components on pretext of making toys, assembled explosives in flat

Dominic Martin. Photo: Manorama News

Nedumbassery: Dominic Martin, the prime accused who set off multiple explosions at a Jehovah's Witnesses convention in Kalamassery three days ago, bought the electronic components for the bombs on the pretext of making toys for children. He bought four remotes and wires from electronic shops located near the Medical Trust Hospital at Pallimukku in Ernakulam. The components were bought from two or three shops to avoid suspicion.

Dominic reached his flat at Athani near Nedumbassery on Friday morning after purchasing all materials necessary for manufacturing the explosive devices. Later, he bought gundu (high-impact crackers) from a shop in Tripunithura and petrol from different fuel pumps. Police believe he stayed in his flat during the day and assembled the bombs. He reached the flat again on Saturday but returned after a short while.

Dominic, who went out of his house in Ernakulam at dawn on Sunday, reached the flat at Athani and headed for the convention hall with the bombs that he had assembled.

After triggering the bombs, he returned to the flat and left the remaining pieces and the two remotes used for the explosion there, reached a lodge at Koratty and checked in, before posting a message on Facebook Live and surrendering at the Kodakara police station.

The investigating officers described Martin as a "brilliant mind". He left behind a lucrative job in the Gulf, which left many questioning his motives.

Police had on Monday formally recorded the arrest of Martin who had surrendered a few hours after the blasts on Sunday. On Tuesday, the Special Investigation Team took Martin to his flat at Athani, in pursuit of crucial evidence.

Over several hours, Martin provided a detailed account of the construction process, using the materials he claimed to have used in the explosion that claimed three lives and left over 50 injured.

When Martin surrendered before the police on Sunday, he had produced bills for the purchased materials, further strengthening the case against him, according to a senior police official.

Bills for petrol purchases linked to the creation of the explosive were among the documents he produced.

Described as a person of "exceptional intelligence and diligence", Martin's decision to relinquish a high-paying overseas position for such a shocking act has confounded authorities.

His proficiency in electronics was taken note of by the police. Martin, wearing a face-covering mask, was presented before the court on Tuesday.

An application is set to be submitted for a test identification parade at the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court on Wednesday, a procedural step in the legal process.

Despite being offered legal assistance multiple times by the court, Martin insisted on representing himself. He stated clearly that this was his choice, dispelling any notions of financial difficulties.

Besides Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) (Punishment for murder) and Section 3 of the Explosive Substances Act, relevant sections of the UAPA have also been invoked against the accused.

The blasts were set off at a convention centre in Kalamassery near here where a prayer meeting of the Jehovah's Witnesses -- a Christian religious group that originated in the US in the 19th century -- was held on Sunday.

Before surrendering, Martin had put out a video message on a social media platform claiming responsibility for the blasts and stating his reasons.

In the video, which was aired on various TV channels, the man claimed that he decided the teachings of the organisation were "seditious."

Martin further claimed that Jehovah's Witnesses and its ideology were dangerous for the country and therefore its presence had to be ended in the state. He claimed that he had told the organisation several times to correct its teachings, but it was not ready to do so.

"As I had no other option, I took this decision," the man said. The investigation team is still working to understand why Martin, who had a successful career abroad, would allegedly be involved in the blast. As the case moves forward, more information is expected to come to light.

Counselling for convention attendees
The health department will provide counselling for those who are facing mental trauma caused by witnessing the explosions at Kalamassery. The attendees of the convention were mostly from the districts of Ernakulam, Kottayam, Idukki, Alappuzha, and Thrissur.

Health Minister Veena George said that all those who took part in the convention would be provided psychological counselling. For those who are under treatment, psychological assistance will be given with the help of the respective hospitals. Those who suffered minor injuries and others will be offered counselling over the phone. Those who suffer from acute mental stress will be provided the service in person. The helpline number for accessing the services is: 14416.

16 persons in ICU
Three persons who suffered injuries in the explosions are in critical condition and are undergoing treatment in private hospitals - two in Aster Medcity and one in Ernakulam Medical Centre.

In addition, 16 persons are in the Intensive Care Units (ICUs) of different hospitals: three in Kalamassery Government Medical College, three in Rajagiri Hospital, five in Ernakulam Medical Centre, two in Sunrise Hospital, two in Aster Medcity, and one in Kottayam Medical College. Skin grafting will be carried out on two persons who suffered extensive burns and are on ventilators at Aster Medcity.
(With PTI inputs)

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