Bomb blasts kill three, injure 41 worshippers at Jehovah’s Witnesses convention centre in Kerala’s Kalamassery
Police in Kerala were put on high alert after a series of blasts at a Sunday prayer convention of the Christian denomination Jehovah’s Witnesses killed two people and injured two dozen, a few of them critically, near Kochi.
Preliminary investigation shows it’s an IED blast. The incident happened at Jehovah’s Witnesses gathering at Zamra International Convention and Exhibition Centre at Kalamassery, where around 2,500 faithful from across the state had gathered for a prayer session.
Local media reports say the investigators suspect a car that went out of the premises of the convention hall was related to the IED blast.
Meanwhile, a person from Kochi has surrendered before Kerala Police claiming responsibility for the bomb blast. A person named Dominic Martin went to Kodakara police station in Thrissur and said that he was responsible for the serial blasts. The police officials are investigating his claims.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the media the incident was unfortunate and the police have taken it very seriously. “Senior officials, including the state DGP, have moved to Kochi. Among the injured, the condition of two is serious,” he said. The CM has called for an all-party meeting on Monday over the matter.
Meanwhile, Kerala health minister Veena George, while speaking about the incident, said that of those injured, 18 are in the ICU. “Of them, six, including a 12-year-old child, are critical,” she added.
Eyewitnesses told reporters the blasts happened in the middle of the convention centre. The first blast among the many explosions occurred around 9.30 am minutes after the day’s prayer session began. “The three-day convention began on Friday and was slated to be over on Sunday,” an eyewitness told the media.
“Today morning at 9:40 am approximately there was an explosion at Zamra International Convention Centre, Kalamassery, in which one person died and 36 persons are undergoing treatment, as per our information. In the convention centre, Jehovah’s Witnesses’s regional convention was happening,” Kerala DGP Shaik Darvesh Saheb said.
“All our senior officers, including the Commissioner or Police, are at the spot and are investigating the matter. Our Additional DGP (Law and Order) is on the way. I will also be reaching the spot shortly. We are examining all angles and we will find out who is behind this and we will take stringent action,” the DGP said.
Senior police officials have rushed to the spot and put the entire force on alert across Kerala. Also, the convention centre has been cordoned off with no one, except the police and the investigating agencies, allowed to enter. This has been done to collect all the possible evidence without fail.
‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’ are a group of Christians who do not identify as protestants. The Jehovah witness convention is an annual gathering wherein larger assemblies called “Regional Conventions” take place which are usually three days long, Friday-Sunday.
According to jw.org, website of Jehovah’s Witnesses, India has about 56,747 Ministers who teach the Bible.
These conventions consist primarily of Bible-based talks, dramatisations, and videos of their preaching work. Their website, jw.org, describes them as being “different from other religious groups that are called Christian.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the “Bible teaches that Jesus is the Son of God, not part of a Trinity” — the doctrine which defines that God exists in three equal persons of the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit. “We do not believe that the soul is immortal, that there is any basis in Scripture for saying that God tortures people in an everlasting hell, or that those who take the lead in religious activities should have titles that elevate them above others,” jw.org reads.