An explosive device placed on Sunday in a mass gathering of Jehovah’s Witnesses in India has so far caused three deaths – all women – and fifty people injured, several of them extremely seriously. The police have already arrested the person responsible, a former member of this evangelical church, a 57-year-old Indian who goes by the name Dominic Martin.
Hundreds of members of this church, originally from the United States, were in a convention center, Zamra, on the outskirts of Cochin, the most populous city in the southern state of Kerala. It was the third and last day of prayer for this community as several explosions spread panic in the area.
Hours later, the video of the aforementioned Martin emerged, in which he blamed himself for the attack and in a message in Hindi – with a strong Malabar accent – accused the church to which he had belonged for sixteen years – and for which – from “anti-national activities”. “I tried to dissuade them and they didn’t listen to me,” he reportedly said.
Kerala is the most literate state with the highest life expectancy in India. Also one of the most peaceful and with the greatest religious diversity, with 55% Hindus, 35% Muslims and about 20% Christians. The latter are in their great majority Syro-Malabar – present since the first millennium or Catholic (present for more than five hundred years).
In the first hours after the explosion, before the attack was claimed, some Hindu extremists – very active on the networks – rushed to falsely attribute the bomb to jihadism. An inflammatory accusation, in a state with one of the largest and best established Muslim communities. The same hoax propagandists suggested that there were Jews among those present, something that has been proven false. Although Cochin welcomed Jews for centuries – and has a famous synagogue founded by Sephardic Jews who fled the kingdoms of Spain – this community emigrated to Israel in its entirety after the founding of the Zionist state.
Two of the victims, women in their early fifties, died yesterday, Sunday. While a third victim, a twelve-year-old girl with burns on 90% of her body, died this Monday. The assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses had started on Friday and was supposed to end yesterday. The multifunctional convention center is located in Kalamassery, on the outskirts of Cochin, next to a law school and a Japanese education center.
Although India is a power exporter of spirituality, foreign missionaries have been banned from entering India for more than sixty years, and the government of Narendra Modi, hostile to religions it considers “not indigenous” to India, has increased the measures against religious conversion, which as long as it is not what is called “conversions” to Hinduism.
Kerala Police Chief Sheik Darvesh Saheb has said that the confessed perpetrator surrendered to the authority as he had announced in his video posted on Facebook. In this he accuses his former brothers of the creed of being “anti-national” and dishonoring them “for preaching the coming of the end of the world and that only they will be saved.” The man, 57 years old and with a moustache, had deceived his wife by telling her that he took the motorbike at five in the morning to visit a friend.
(Below a photo of the explosion and a framed frame of the killer claiming responsibility for the attack)
Thirteen killed in collision between two trains in southern India
Another accident hit India last night, with the collision of two trains in the Vizianagaram district of the southern state of Andhra. At least thirteen of its hundred passengers have died in the accident and thirty have been injured.
According to the authorities, the collision of the train between Visakhapatnam and Palasa with another train, which, after leaving the same city, was on its way to Rayagada, was probably motivated by an error or recklessness of the driver of the latter, who would have jumped the red light . , which derails two cars from the other convoy with the collision, as well as its own locomotive.