The Kerala police on Friday arrested a West Bengal native for allegedly setting ablaze a coach of an express train which was halted at Kannur railway station in the wee hours of Thursday, and said he was a beggar who was undergoing mental trauma.
North Zone IG Neeraj Kumar Gupta said the man, who was a beggar, is suspected to have done the act "due to mental trauma", as he could not get any money from begging in the state.
Gupta, who addressed the media in Kannur, said that based on the investigation, Prosoonjit Sikdar from 24 South Parganas in West Bengal was arrested and will be produced before the court.
"He came here (Kannur) around three days ago to Thalassery first. After that he walked to Kannur. In the night he went to this coach. He is a person who smokes beedi. He used a matchbox and burned some portion of the train which then continued to burn, and the entire coach was gutted by the fire," Gupta said, adding that sufficient evidence to connect him with the crime was available.
The incident took place on the Alappuzha-Kannur Executive Express train in which two months ago a man had set fire to his co-passengers, which resulted in three deaths including that of a toddler, leading to speculation that it might be a case of sabotage and connected to the earlier crime.
However, the senior police official said that as of now, there was no connection with the Elathur train arson case that took place in Kozhikode on the same Alappuzha-Kannur Executive Express train.
Gupta said that as per the preliminary investigation, it was found that the accused used to work as a waiter in many hotels at several places but later started picking up plastic bottles, which he used to sell to earn his livelihood.
In the past two years, he stopped doing it and became a beggar, Gupta said.
"When he reached Thalassery, he could not get any money through begging and was in mental trauma and walked to Kannur. And because of his mental trauma, he has done this act... Prima facie, he was completely frustrated because he could not collect any money from begging. Because of agony, he has done this act," Gupta said.
Central agencies such as the Intelligence Bureau and the National Investigation Agency had arrived at the scene on Thursday morning to investigate all possible angles, including that of sabotage.
The fire was noticed by some station staff at around 1.30 am and they informed the Kannur Fire and Rescue Station which dispatched four units to deal with the blaze.
The fire was contained at around 3.15 am, a fire rescue officer said.
The train was stationary on a track 20-30 metres away from the platform and around 100 metres from a nearby Bharat Petroleum fuel depot, a fire rescue officer said, adding that one of its coaches was completely engulfed in flames when they reached there.
The incident occurred after all the passengers had deboarded and therefore, no one was injured, an officer of RPS Kannur had said.
Visuals aired on TV channels showed huge flames coming out from the windows of the coach with thick plumes of smoke rising in the air.
On April 2 night, three people, including a baby, died in a train arson incident in Kozhikode district, which had shocked the country.
On that day, accused Shahrukh Saifi had set his co-passengers on fire onboard the Alappuzha-Kannur Executive Express train when it reached Korapuzha bridge near Elathur in Kozhikode.