Massacre on the train by the RPF constable smacks of communal hate crime

The massacre on the train by RPF constable named Chetan Singh has traits that indicate that it was a terror attack targeting Muslim travellers

Massacre on the train by the RPF constable smacks of communal hate crime

RPF constable Chetan Singh who allegedly killed four people, including his superior.

In an apparent terror attack, a Railway Protection Force (RPF) constable named Chetan Singh is accused of killing his superior and three other passengers on board the 12956 Jaipur-Mumbai Central Super Fast Express in the early morning of Monday, July 31st, near Palghar in Maharashtra, around 100km from Mumbai. Reports have emerged that allege that the massacre on the train by the RPF constable was an act of hate crime, which the government has denied so far.

The incident took place around 5am on Monday, when Singh, along with a team of RPF personnel, was escorting the train. He informed his superior, Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Tika Ram Meena that he wasn’t feeling well. Meena asked Singh to rest in the B5 compartment (third AC).  

Amay Ghanshyaam Acharya, a constable of the RPF, who filed the first information report with the Government Railway Police (GRP), informed that Singh rested for around 15 minutes in the compartment and suddenly woke up and demanded his automatic rifle. When Acharya denied him the weapon, Singh allegedly strangled him and managed to seize it forcefully.

Acharya informed that he ran away to the pantry car of the train to inform others about the incident, fearing that Singh may attack him. Singh reportedly shot Meena, who was in the B5 compartment and then killed another passenger in the same compartment. After killing them, Singh allegedly went to the pantry car and shot one person there and then went to the S6 coach (sleeper bogie), which was the eighth one from the B5 bogie. There he shot another victim.

Those killed by Singh on the train apart from Meena are Abdul Kadarbhai Mohammed Hussain Bhanpurwala (48), a resident of Nalasopara in Palghar, Sadar Mohammed Hussain, and Asgar Abbas Sheikh (48), a resident of Madhubani in Bihar. It’s alleged that he discriminately fired at the victims, identifying them as Muslims by their beards.

While Bhanpurwala was shot dead in the B5 coach, Hussain was killed in the pantry car, and Sheikh was killed in the S6 compartment. Bhanpurwala, a businessman, was returning to Nalasopara after visiting his ancestral place at Rajasthan’s Bhanpur during the first ten days of the Islamic month of Muharram. Sheikh, who lives with his brother in Jaipur, was travelling to find work in Mumbai, while Hussain’s details are not known.

ASI Meena hailed from Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan and was attached to the Dadar RPF post. He was due to retire in 2025 and is survived by his wife, a 22-year-old daughter and a 20-year-old son. 

Singh reportedly tried fleeing by pulling the chain of the train at 5.59am, bringing it to a halt between Meera Road and Dahisar stations. The GRP managed to arrest him with the weapon allegedly used for the massacre on the train. It’s reported that Singh fired 12 rounds from his assault rifle. The GRP recovered eight unused bullets from his rifle’s magazine.

In a shocking video—East Post has not verified its authenticity—a man in khaki uniform, purportedly Singh, was seen standing near a dead body laced with blood with his back towards the camera inside a train compartment. 

“Pakistan se operate hue hain, tumhari media, yahi media coverage dikha rahi hai hai, pata chal raha hai unko, sab pata chal raha hai, inke aaqa hai wahan… Agar vote dena hai, agar Hindustan me rahna hai, toh main kahta hoon, Modi aur Yogi, ye do hain, aur aapke Thackeray” (They operate from Pakistan, this is what the media of the country is showing, they have found out, they know everything, their masters are there… If you want to vote, if you want to live in India, then I say, Modi and Yogi, these are the two, and your Thackeray’), the man was heard saying.

Following the video footage, which became viral by the evening of Monday, it has been alleged that Singh, who hails from Uttar Pradesh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindutva-driven far-right Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has been radicalised by the smearing propaganda run allegedly by the saffron camp on social media to vilify Muslims.

However, the police didn’t accept the angle of hate crime and it has been claimed that Singh has short temper and has a habit of losing his cool fast. Inspector General cum Principal Chief Security Commissioner of Western Railway PC Sinha said, “Constable Chetan Singh is a short-tempered person and suffering from mental health issues. He first shot his superior and then shot those who came in front of him”. 

However, his relatives in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras claimed that Singh never had any history of mental illness. He is married with a daughter and lives in the RPF barrack. The deliberation of the GRP and the administration to write off the possibility of hate crime has raised questions over the intention of the authorities.

Claiming the massacre on the train by the RPF constable as a maiden incident of this nature, GRP Commissioner Ravindra Shisve said, “It’s too early to jump to any conclusion, and at this stage, it will be premature to say anything and share any details about the probe.” He assured the passengers of their safety. 

The Opposition’s Jairam Ramesh, who belongs to the Indian National Congress (INC), called the massacre on the train by the RPF constable Singh a result of the Hindutva camp’s hate-mongering and radicalisation.

Asaduddin Owaisi, from the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), called the massacre on the train a terror attack. His tweet was withheld by the social media platform X—formerly Twitter—following directives of the Indian government.

Despite the criticism from the INC and AIMIM, the BJP or other Hindutva-inclined organisations haven’t spoken on the incident. However, the Union government has ordered X to block the purported video of Singh’s speech. The video is no longer visible to the India-based users of X, however, those outside the country can still find it.

Although it has been alleged several times by the Opposition that the police personnel of different BJP-ruled states openly exhibit their Islamophobia and the personnel of Delhi, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh police have been accused of being complicit in anti-Muslim pogroms, it’s for the first time a policeman on duty killed unarmed civilians for their religious identity.

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