KOCHI: Two women lost their lives, and 51 individuals sustained injuries, some of them severe, in a series of explosions that sent shockwaves through the region near port city of Kochi in Kerala, on Sunday morning.

The blasts occurred at an international convention center in Kalamassery, where hundreds of followers from the Christian group Jehovah’s Witnesses had gathered for the final day of a three-day prayer meeting.

Shortly after the incident, an individual claiming to be a Jehovah’s Witnesses member surrendered to the police in Thrissur district, confessing to carrying out the explosions. Law enforcement registered a First Information Report (FIR) against unknown suspects under Sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempted murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), along with charges related to the Explosives Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), an anti-terror law.

State Health Minister Veena George reported that out of the 51 injured, 30 were admitted to various hospitals, with 18 of them in critical condition. Six of these, including a 12-year-old child, had suffered severe burns, some over 90 percent of their bodies. Teams of plastic surgeons and general surgeons from Thrissur and Kottayam medical colleges were dispatched to Kalamassery Medical College, and a 14-member medical board was formed to oversee the treatment of the injured.
ADGP Law and Order M R Ajith Kumar revealed that a man named Dominic Martin had surrendered, claiming responsibility for the blasts. Martin stated that he carried out the act because he believed the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses were “seditious.” The organization has not yet responded to these allegations, and another person claiming to be a group member denied Martin’s association with them.

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Martin further asserted that the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses posed a danger to the country and needed to be eradicated in the state. He claimed to have urged the organization to amend its teachings, but when it refused, he felt compelled to take action.
Preliminary investigations indicated that an improvised explosive device (IED) was used in the explosions. The State Police Chief, Shaik Darvesh Saheb, called the incident “shocking” and said a Special Investigation Team (SIT) would be established. The details of the incident, such as the use of tiffin boxes to pack explosives, remained unconfirmed as various agencies, including the state anti-terrorism squad and the National Investigation Agency (NIA), examined the blast site.

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The Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, described the incident as “extremely unfortunate” and convened an all-party meeting in response to the tragedy. Political leaders in the region viewed the incident with gravity and pledged to take strict actions against any attempt to divert attention from other issues, such as the situation in Palestine.
The witnesses at the convention center described terrifying moments following the explosions, with attendees fleeing in fear as fire and chaos erupted. The situation inside the hall was chaotic, with people trying to extinguish fires and assist the injured.
In response to the blasts, authorities across the state were placed on high alert, and an investigation was launched to ascertain the full details of this tragic event.
(With agency inputs)

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