Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa has turned down the Centre’s offer for a probe by the elite National Investigation Agency and has handed the case to a special wing in the state police instead, asking only for a National Security Guard team to help with forensic analysis.
Early on Thursday morning, two blasts ripped through two coaches of the Guwahati-Bangalore Express just after it arrived at the Chennai Central railway station. A young woman was killed and 14 people were injured.
Sources said the union home ministry wanted to treat this as a possible terror attack and so send in the NIA, but the state authorities have booked a criminal case for offences under the Explosive Substances Act and cases of murder and damage to railway property.
The NIA has jurisdiction to investigate cases all over the country; the NSG can only assist in technical matters and does not investigate. State governments in Maharashtra, Andhra and Delhi have earlier opposed the NIA’s involvement.
Home ministry sources said the Centre expects the NIA to be called in eventually, but is willing to wait for Tamil Nadu to conclude its investigation before it launches its own.
A senior policeman in Chennai said the blasts, described as low intensity explosions, could have been triggered by a timer device. He said the case was initially being investigated as a terror attack, but that angle was eventually discarded and a “criminal case” was registered by the Crime Branch Crime Investigation Department which is now investigating the blasts.