Kerala train fire: Neighbours in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh in shock after main suspect Shahrukh Saifi under arrest
Residents in south-east Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh spoke in hushed voices on Wednesday after they found out that one of their neighbours, Shahrukh Saifi, 24, was arrested in Maharashtra in connection with the Kerala train fire case. The family, they said, moved here from their village near Greater Noida about 15 years ago.
Mr. Saifi was accused of pouring an inflammable liquid on fellow passengers and setting them on fire on the Alappuzha-Kannur Executive Express near Elathur in Kerala’s Kozhikode district on Sunday night
Mohammad Mohsin, a shopkeeper near Mr. Saifi’s house, said the entire neighbourhood was in shock after learning of his arrest. “We can barely believe what’s being shown on the news. I know him since childhood. He didn’t use to talk much. He would go to work with his father in the morning and come back at night, so there wasn’t much interaction. But he was a simple boy and focused on his work,” he said.
The residents said Mr. Saifi went missing on March 31 and his father, Fakruddin, who worked as a carpenter in Noida’s Sector 31, had lodged a complaint on Sunday at the local police station.
Akram, who irons clothes in the neighbourhood, wondered how he reached Kerala. “As far as I know, his family has no relative there,” he said.
Cell phones of some of Mr. Saifi’s family members were switched off on Wednesday. A relative, who wished not to be named, however, told The Hindu that Mr. Saifi had gone “extra quiet and serious” for a while. “Since he didn’t talk much, nobody knows what exactly he was involved with,” the relative said.
The prime suspect’s grandmother, who was at home alone, said the entire family had been at the police station since morning. But a senior police officer with the Special Cell refuted this and said that the family members were only questioned by a team of Kerala Police on Tuesday. “They were questioned before his arrest. Today (Wednesday) morning, the Kerala team visited their house briefly. We didn’t have much involvement anyway; it was a Kerala Police case,” the officer said.
A senior officer in South East district said the Kerala Police team left on Wednesday after Mr. Saifi was arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad, in a joint operation with Central enforcement agencies, from the Ratnagiri railway station in Maharashtra on Tuesday night. “We helped them locate Saifi’s house and provided some personnel when they went for a search operation,” he said.
The accused has been handed over to the Special Investigation Team of Kerala Police and will be brought to Kannur on Thursday.