Three Indian Muslims among four people were killed after an Indian railway security officer went on a shooting spree as he "lost his temper" inside a moving train travelling across the country’s western Maharashtra state, according to local media.
After the shooting on board the Jaipur-Mumbai Central Superfast Express train early on Monday, the suspect was identified by police as Chetan Singh, a 33-year-old constable with the Railway Protection Force (RPF).
In the videos that have been widely circulated on the X social media platform, previously known as Twitter, Singh can be seen hailing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Yogi Adityanath, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh while holding his gun in one hand, standing next to a body covered in blood.
“If you want to live and vote in Hindustan [India], I am telling you, it’s only Modi and Yogi,” he was heard saying in one of the videos verified by Al Jazeera.
One of the victims has been identified as Singh's senior colleague, RPF Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) Tika Ram Meena.
The other three victims were identified as Muslims, Abdul Kaderbhai Bhanpurwala, Sadar Mohammed Hussain, and Asgar Abbas Ali, aboard the moving train.
The Hindustan Times reports: “All three passengers were bearded. As Asghar’s body toppled onto the narrow corridor, Singh rested the hilt of his assault weapon on the side seat and began a short hate-filled rant against Muslims that he asked the bystanders to record for the media’s consumption.”
The passengers were killed near the town of Palghar in the southwestern state of Maharashtra at about 5am (23:30 GMT on Sunday), two hours away from Mumbai.
According to local media reports, Singh allegedly fired 12 rounds from his service rifle to kill Meena, 57, and a passenger. Singh later allegedly killed the two other passengers in two separate train coaches.
“We received information at 6am that an RPF constable who was on escort duty opened fired, and four people were shot, one of whom was an ASI,” Divisional Railway Manager Niraj Verma told reporters in Mumbai.
The Indian Express reported that Singh opened fire on Meena after an argument, but a railway official denied the report, stating Singh “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,” RPF (Western Railway) Inspector General Praveen Sinha was quoted as saying by ANI.
Singh, who hails from Uttar Pradesh, was apprehended by local police after getting off the train at Borivali station in Mumbai after the shooting. The motive remains unclear as an investigation continues, according to Government Railway Police Commissioner Ravindra Shisve.
Additionally, a senior leader from the opposition Indian National Congress party, Jairam Ramesh, termed the shooting a “cold-blooded murder” while denouncing the incident.
“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 Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and said its top leaders were “complicit in damaging the social fabric of India”.
Asadudin 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”.
In the meantime, a Maharashtra-based BJP lawmaker demanded a comprehensive probe while Manisha Chaudhary said that an investigation "must be carried out to determine the exact reason behind the incident," as quoted in the Indian Express.
The incident comes after frequent hate crimes that have been occurring across India against local Muslims.
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