Christian sect member takes responsibility for church bomb blast
Indian police have opened a high-level investigation into a series of blasts at a Jehovah’s Witnesses gathering on Sunday that killed three people and injured at least 50 others in the southern state of Kerala.
The incident took place during a prayer session organized by the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the town of Kalamassery, which was attended by over 2,000 followers. Shortly after the incident, a man identified as Dominic Martin posted a video on Facebook in which he took responsibility for the attack.
In the confession video, which has now been deleted, Martin cited the organization being “on the wrong track” as his reason for planting the bomb. He claimed to have been a member of the religious group for 16 years but “was not serious about it” and over time had become angry about its “anti-national” teachings.
“When an entire congregation is taught using abusive language that the society is going to be destroyed, that we should not mingle with others or share food with others, I figured that the organization was wrong and its teachings were dangerous to the country,” he said.
Martin alleged that the Jehovah’s Witnesses taught children not to sing the national anthem, or, when they grow up, vote, or join the military or accept a government job. “I have tried multiple times to rectify this,” the man said in the video. “But none of them were ready to change.” He later surrendered to police.
“He is in our custody but we have not recorded his arrest so far,” the Kerala police’s public relations officer was quoted as saying by Reuters on Monday. “We are still trying to ascertain the veracity of his statement, it will take some time.”
A regional spokesperson for the Jehovah’s Witnesses told Reuters that he was unaware if Martin was even present at the event, casting further doubts on the veracity of the “confession.”
Martin’s landlord informed India Today that he had lost his job as an English teacher during the Covid-19 pandemic. He subsequently left for Dubai but returned to India two months ago. Martin has been described as a “silent person” who did not mingle much with his neighbors.
Two of the blast victims died on Sunday, while a 12-year-old girl with severe burns succumbed to her injuries on Monday morning, according to media reports. Local police believe an improvised explosive device placed inside a tiffin box may have caused the explosions. Pinarayi Vijayan, the chief minister of Kerala, announced that a 20-member team of police has been tasked with investigating the incident. Meanwhile, a team of National Security Guard personnel has also been deployed from New Delhi to the blast site to aid in the probe.
Following the blast, police have ramped up security in the more crowded areas of New Delhi, according to Indian media reports. Police in Mumbai have also issued a high alert and have increased security measures. Security has also been enhanced at Chabad House, a Jewish center in Mumbai.
The church attack happened just two days after a massive pro-Palestine rally organized by the Solidarity Youth Movement, the youth wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was held in the Malappuram district of Kerala. Khaled Mashal, the former leader of Hamas, participated virtually in the rally, drawing outrage from many members of the country’s ruling BJP party. After the rally, Kerala BJP president K Surendran said such events were “unacceptable.” India’s Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar linked the serial blasts to the protests in the state.