Coromandel Express: Accident or Terror Attack
On 31st March this year, a 24 year muslim youth, boarded Jansampark Kranti Express at Delhi. Enroute, close to the train’s destination, at a place called Shoranur, he purchases petrol, and boards another train Alapurrha-Kannur Executive Express on 02 April. And then all of sudden, while the train is negotiating a bridge, he sprays petrol on his co-passengers, and sets them afire. Nine of them suffered serious burn injuries. A man, his wife along with her infant jumped out of the train and was later found dead near the tracks.
As per the Special Investigation Team (SIT) Shahrukh had changed his dress after the attack. This has been captured by CCTV. The SIT is also certain that local support and facilitation was extended to him.
This jihadi act was perpetrated by Shahrukh Saifi, a resident of infamous Shaheenbagh in Delhi. He was finally apprehended by the Maharashtra ATS in Ratnagiri. As per the Special Investigation Team (SIT) Shahrukh had changed his dress after the attack. This has been captured by CCTV. The SIT is also certain that local support and facilitation was extended to him.
Precisely, two months later, on 01 June a compartment was again set on fire at Kannur. Mercifully, it was an empty coach. This coach was meters away from a BPCL fuel storage facility. As per the police, this time the perpetrator was a Hindu by the name of Prusenjit Sidgar, a resident of 24 Parganas in West Bengal. The police explanation was bizarre rather an assault on any sane mind. It maintained that the accused had worked in several hotels in Mumbai and Kolkatta, but for the last two years was an itinerant beggar. Unable to receive any alms during that fateful period, he out of sheer frustration set the coach on fire. The police further said it was an impromptu act wherein the accused used matchbox for the purpose. The matchbox was in his possession to cater to his smoking habit.
Was it another attempt to balance jihadi terror by fabricating an act of sabotage by a lunatic Hindu?
Shahrukh, the police maintains, was highly radicalized. He was deeply inspired by Zakir Naik and Islamic preacher Israr Ahmed based in Pakistan. What was the inspiration for 40 year old Pushanjit Sidgar? Why was Kannur region chosen for the attack? Probably because of the most favourable jihadi eco system that prevails there. Kasargod, Kannur, Kozhikode, Mallapuram, Palakadd and Waynad are part of this eco system, with Coimbatore serving as the pivot. It is this eco system that is at the centre of ‘Love Jihad’. It is this entrenched jihadi eco system that provided jihadis for the Islamic State from India, as well as sex slaves, victims of Love Jihad. This region is at the centre of the movie ‘Kerela Story’.
Why travel all the way from Delhi and West Bengal to Kannur in Kerela to carry out jihadi attack? This signifies the pan Indian nature of Jihad in India or Ghazwa-e-Hind Just as the Popular Front of India (PFI) went right from Kerela to Shaheenbagh in Delhi to fund and spearhead the anti-India Jihadi protests, Shahrukh travelled from Shaheenbagh to Kerela to choose his Jihadi target i.e. train passengers. Train terrorism is very much a part of jihadi terrorism dictionary in India. The modus operandi that Shahrukh chose was reminiscent of the incendiary attack on the Sabarmati Express at Ghodra on 27 Feb 2002 in which 59 karsevaks were burnt alive. Godhra too had a favourable eco system for this kind of a jihadi attack.
Why travel all the way from West Bengal to Kerela for Jihadi attack? It is because West Bengal has become the Iynchpin of the jihadi eco system of eastern part of our country comprising Bangladesh, southern part of Assam, eastern part of Bihar, West Bengal, which includes the Silliguri Corridor. Infact West Bengal has outdone Bangladesh in radicalisation and jihadi activity, radiating to other parts of India. Just recently, on 22nd May, the Gujarat police apprehended four terrorists in Ahmedadabad, namely Mohd Sajid, Khalid Ansari, Azharul Islam, and Mainmul Ansari. They were all trained in Bangladesh. They had links with AI Qaeda and were tasked to carryout jihadi activities in Gujarat.
From beginning of this year there have been several attacks on Vande Bharat trains in muslim predominant regions. The pattern of stone pelting has uncanny similarity.
On 15th Jan this year, a NIA court in Bengaluru sentenced four JMB members to seven years rigorous imprisonment. A large amount of bomb making material was recovered from them. The recovery also included Rocket Launcher manufacturing material. They also were found guilty of committing dacoities at several locations in Bengaluru for generating funds for Jihad. Earlier, on 30th November three members of the JMB were also sentenced for seven years imprisonment for similar jihadi activities. They were again from West Bengal. In July 2019, the NIA busted a JMB sleeper module and recovered hand grenades and bomb making material. They were planning to carry out multiple attacks in different parts of the state. Bangladeshi jihadis are also engaged in economic Jihad in Bengaluru.
In Feb 2020, a NIA court awarded six years imprisonment to a Bangladeshi national for distributing fake Indian currency. Bengali speaking jihadis, perpetrating jihadi attacks in Mumbai, Kerela and Bengaluru is a reminder of the pan sub-continental dimension of Islam. Committing dacoities to raise funds from within India for Ghazwa e Hind, is the concept of ‘Male-Ganimat’ or war booty, enjoined by Islamic scriptures. In this regard the jihadis are inspired by the ultimate messianic example in Islam.
All the subcontinental jihadi tanzeems feed on each other. The AI Qaeda is the mother organization of most of these groups. Pakistan based jihadi tanzeems like the Lashkar e Taiba (LeT) and Jaish e Mohammad (JeM) have substantial influence amongst the fundamentalists in Bangladesh. ln the JeM attack on Pathankot airbase in Jan 2016, a JMB operative, Zia-ul-Haque also had important role. He had close links with the JeM. He is also one of the accused in Burdwan blasts. He was arrested by the NIA in 2014. JeM’s Bengal link has been well established. A JeM operative Belal Hussain alias Nandu Mondal was also arrested for his role in the Kandhar hijack . He was also known for his frantic efforts towards establishment of a JeM network in West Bengal.
From beginning of this year there have been several attacks on Vande Bharat trains in muslim predominant regions. The pattern of stone pelting has uncanny similarity. Vande Bharat trains have been attacked by the jihadis because they view any progressive development in India from the Jihadi and Pakistani prism. They wish India to be cut to the level of Pakistan. India’s progress is an anathema to them. They curse Abul Kalam Azad for his un-Islamic acts of contributing towards enhancing the strategic strength of India.
In January alone there were three attacks on Vande Bharat trains i.e. Katihar in Bihar, Phansidewa in West Bengal, Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh. In the following month there were two attacks, one in Mehboobnagar in Telangana, and the other between Krishnarajpuram and Bengaluru Cantonment in Karnatka. Again in March, a Vande Bharat train was damaged in Murshidabad in West Bengal. In April, in Andhra Pradesh, a Vishakhapatnam bound Vande Bharat was stone-pelted between Khamam and Vijayawada railway station. In May, another Vandey Bharat, travelling between Kasargod and Tiruvanthapuram in Kerela came under attack.
The endemic attacks on Vande Bharat trains have been generally in and around the Red Corridor and the Jihadi Corridor, extending from Kerela to West Bengal. We have seen the anti-national bonhomie between Maoists and Jihadis, and their political benefactors at Shaheen Bagh. Balasore also lies in the proximity same corridor.
Since Jihad in the country is a pan-Indian phenomenon, attacks on trains have pan-India impact. The attacks on Vande Bharat trains probably fell short of the intended jihadi message, a target with much bigger human component was chosen
Intelligence agencies of inimical foreign countries have been desperately vying for direct and indirect presence here, because of the place being the site of India’s missile tests. The humongous mishap or the three train crash on 02 June in Balasore wherein in the Coromandel Express lost 275 passengers should be viewed in this backdrop. Given this backdrop it is rather premature to dismiss the three train crash as accident.
The Railway Minister Mr Ashwani Vaishnav has said: “The root cause of the horrifying incident has been identified… I do not want to go in to the details. Let the report come out. I will just say that the root cause and the people responsible have been identified.” The minister has indicated that something went wrong with the electronic interlocking system based on an electronic point machine, a critical device for railway signaling and electronic interlocking. From the minister’s statement, it can be extrapolated that there has been some submission or commission by the railway staff. In the prevailing environment, jihadi subversion or Maoist subversion or both is a distinct possibility.
Since Jihad in the country is a pan-Indian phenomenon, attacks on trains have pan-India impact. The attacks on Vande Bharat trains probably fell short of the intended jihadi message, a target with much bigger human component was chosen. Thus Coromandel Express became the target.