The Syro-Malabar Church has expressed shock and pain at a series of explosions during a prayer meeting of Jehovah’s meeting that on October 29 killed two and wounded more than 50 people in the southern Indian state of Kerala.
This incident “is highly condemnable” as it has caused pain and shock, says the Kerala-based Church’s Media Commission. It has demanded that the culprits be brought to justice through an impartial, honest and efficient investigation by federal and state agencies.
Three blasts occurred at the Christian group’s convention center in Kalamassery near Kochi, Kerala’s commercial capital.
Preliminary investigation revealed that the explosion was caused by an improvised explosive device (IED).
Kerala Director General of Police Darvesh Saheb told reporters that an explosion occurred at about 9:40 am in Zamra International Convention Centre.
“We will find out who is behind this and take stringent action … preliminary investigation shows it was an IED [improvised explosive device] blast,” he said.
According to Kerala Health Minister Veena George, six are critically injured and undergoing treatment. She has ordered all health workers on leave to return immediately and directed the Directors of the Health Department and Medical Education Department to provide the best possible treatment for those injured in the explosion.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan stated that the incident was serious and said a probe was underway.
Videos filmed shortly after the explosion and posted online showed flames inside the building and rescuers helping people. They also showed multiple fires and people in fear.
A man named Dominic Martin has claimed responsibility for the blasts and surrendered before police in Thrissur, some 85 km north of Kochi.
The Kerala police later confirmed Martin had planted the bombs. The police found visuals of the remote control used to detonate the IED on Dominic’s phone.
Martin, who was a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, confessed to the crime and his motivation for the same on Facebook Live, which he posted before surrendering to the police.
He said despite multiple requests to the Christian denomination to change its ways which promote hatred, they refused to do so. Hence, he decided to plant a bomb at the convention.
The Police have booked Martin under the UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act) among other grave charges.
In the aftermath of the explosion, hundreds of people were seen outside the convention centre. Health Minister Veena
The Church statement noted that the blasts took place during the three-day prayers attended by around 2,300 people. Such an incident was unheard in Kerala and it has shocked the state’s entire population, the statement added.
“It is suspected that this is a deliberate and planned attempt to destroy the secular nature of Kerala,” said the statement issued by commission secretary Father Antony Vadakkekara, who is also the Church’s spokesperson.
The Catholic Church said it shares the pain of people who faced unexpected violence while praying and
“It is the responsibility of the government to create a favorable environment for people belonging to all religious groups to live and pray without fear in our society,” the statement asserted.
The Church urged the government agencies to wake up and act “to prevent the recurrence of such unfortunate incidents which destroy the social and communal harmony atmosphere of Kerala.”
According to the 2011 Census, India has about 60,000 followers of Jehovah’s Witnesses among the country’s nearly 28 million Christians.
The nontrinitarian millenarian restorationist Christian denomination reported in 2022 that it has approximately 8.5 million members worldwide involved in evangelism. It is directed by a group of elders in Warwick, New York, United States, known as the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, which establishes all doctrines based on its interpretations of the Bible.
The group emerged from the Bible Student movement founded in the late 1870s by Charles Taze Russell. The Christian sect is known for its worldwide practice of door-to-door evangelism. It teaches non-violence and stays politically neutral, with members refusing to vote or serve in the military. (Courtesy: mattersindia.com)