An Indian railway security official has been arrested after he allegedly opened fire and killed four people on board an express train between Mumbai and Jaipur.
Here is what to know about the incident:
Keep readinglist of 4 items
What happened on the train?
The accused was identified as Chetan Singh, a constable in India’s Railway Protection Force (RPF), according to police.
The 33-year-old early on Monday allegedly used his service rifle to fatally shoot four people on the Jaipur-Mumbai Central Superfast Express. He fired 12 rounds from the automatic weapon, reports in Indian media said.
The suspect first allegedly shot at his senior colleague, RPF Assistant Sub-Inspector Tikaram Meena. Some reports said the incident took place after a heated argument between the two took a communal turn, but this could not be independently confirmed.
The accused then allegedly opened fire at a passenger who was in the same compartment, according to the Indian Express.
Singh later crossed into two separate coaches where he allegedly killed two other passengers.
He then tried to stop the train and got off near Borivali, a town in Maharashtra state, where he was apprehended by police.
Who is the main accused?
Singh is a constable, a lower-grade security official, in the RPF from Hathras in Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in India.
RPF officers board trains on escort duty in order to provide safety and security to the passengers.
What did the accused say?
Following the shooting, a video posted on social media and verified by Al Jazeera purportedly showed Singh holding a rifle and standing next to a blood-soaked body of a bearded man.
The man in the video is then heard saying: “They were being operated from Pakistan and our media is giving [them] coverage. They are all aware. But I am telling you, if you want to live and vote in Hindustan [India] – it is only [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi and [Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath] Yogi, these are the only two names.”
Who are the victims?
Meena, a 57-year-old man from Sawai Madhoper village in Rajasthan state, was due to retire soon from the RPF after 33 years of service, reports said.
Indian media also reported that the other three victims were identified by police as Abdul Kadar, 64, Asgar Abbas Ali, 48 and Syed Saifullah. They were all reported to be Muslim.
Ali, a bangle seller, was the last man to be allegedly shot by Singh.
What have officials said?
Divisional Railway Manager Niraj Verma told reporters in Mumbai that they received information about the incident at 6am on Monday (00:30 GMT).
“He was taken away to a police station, where he is being held,” he said, referring to the suspect.
A railway official dismissed reports saying said that Singh had fired the shots after a communal argument, adding that the accused “wasn’t feeling well and hence lost his calm”.
“He had a short fuse. He was quite hot-headed. There was no altercation. He just lost his temper and shot his senior, then fired at whoever he saw,” Praveen Sinha, inspector general of RPF (Western Railway), was quoted as saying by ANI.
A legislator of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party from Maharashtra called for a thorough investigation. Manisha Chaudhary said an inquiry “must be carried out to ascertain the exact reason behind the incident”, the Indian Express reported.
Modi has not reacted to the incident yet. He was in Maharashtra’s second most populous city of Pune on Tuesday, where he was conferred with an award. He also inaugurated a metro train project in the city.
PM @narendramodi conferred with Lokmanya Tilak National Award in Pune, Maharashtra.
The Award was constituted by Tilak Smarak Mandir Trust in 1983 to honor the legacy of Lokmanya Tilak. pic.twitter.com/agRIaFzl9g
— PIB India (@PIB_India) August 1, 2023
What happens next?
Police have opened an investigation.
Surendra Landge, a lawyer representing Singh, said he met the accused briefly on Tuesday.
“He told me he is innocent and has no knowledge about the firing [incident],” Landge told India’s PTI news agency.
“A senior railway official told the court that there should be an inquiry and medical checkup to ascertain Singh’s mental condition,” he added.
The lawyer said police officials in the suspect’s hometown should meet members of his family as part of the investigation to find out more.
What has been the reaction?
The fatal shooting has been condemned on social media with a senior leader from the opposition Indian National Congress party, Jairam Ramesh, calling it a “cold-blooded murder”.
“The genie of hate is now out of the bottle and it will take a lot of collective effort to put it back in,” Ramesh said in a tweet.
He laid the blame for “hate and violence” on the BJP and said its top leaders were “complicit in damaging the social fabric of India”.
The cold-blooded murders carried out by a RPF constable is the result of an hyper-charged and highly polarised news media and social media atmosphere. The genie of hate is now out of the bottle and it will take a lot of collective effort to put it back in.
The message of the…
— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) July 31, 2023
You can't wear Payjama Kurta or have long beard because it might get you killed by any Hindutva fanatic. #JaipurExpressTerrorAttack
— Prashant Kanojia (@PJkanojia) July 31, 2023
“Agar Hindustan me rehna hai, toh mai kehta hun, Modi aur Yogi, ye do hain, aur aapke Thakrey” ( If you want to live in India, Modi, Yogi and your Thackeray) says RPF constable #ChetanSingh as he roams a train shooting dead his senior and 3 Muslim passengers. When India’s…
— Sagarika Ghose (@sagarikaghose) August 1, 2023
Asaduddin Owaisi, a Muslim member of parliament and leader of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) party which advocates for the rights of Muslims and other marginalised groups, called it a “terror attack that specifically targeted Muslims”.
Walking around the train with a loaded gun, killing Muslims at will and with impunity. Perhaps he only found 3, but what if he found 20 or 50? Perhaps a joint family of 5-6 children! Perhaps he came across me and my family.
This is what India's 20 crore Muslims are thinking.
— Darab Farooqui (@darab_farooqui) July 31, 2023
Some social media users have reported that their posts on X, formerly known as Twitter, have been withheld by the platform after complaints from the Indian government.
My tweet on the train incident has been withheld in India in response to a demand by the government of India. Twitter has written to me to inform of the same. So much for the mother of democracy pic.twitter.com/JxADYSpyti
— Rana Ayyub (@RanaAyyub) August 1, 2023