Wreath may hold a clue to ashram attacktext_fields
Thiruvananthapuram: State police investigators said they believed that an ominous wreath left behind by the attackers who torched the ashram of Sandeepananda Giri here last week might help them crack the high-profile arson attack case.
Officers have shown the wreath to scores of traditional florists in Chalai and other markets to find out if they recognised any pattern in the flower arrangement that could lead the police to the maker, seller and finally the buyer.
A senior officer said it was imperative that police solved the crime before another copycat attack targeted other opinion leaders who like Sandeepananda Giri had publicly advocated the right of women to worship at Sabarimala Ayyappa temple.
Law enforcers have prepared a list of writers, teachers, academicians, television debaters and politicians they have deemed as potential targets of hate crime related to the simmering Sabarimala women entry issue.
A few top law enforcers have also made it to the list. Another officer said cracking the arson attack case might help the police stymie potential religious hate-fuelled attacks on ideological opponents in the Sabarimala issue.
Meanwhile, a senior officer, quoting forensic experts who analysed the fire flow pattern at the scene of the crime, said the arsonists had doused the front portion of the ashram and the cars parked on the porch with canned petrol and set it on fire. They have ruled out the use of petrol bombs.
Hence, a parallel police line of enquiry was focussed on gas stations in the locality. Investigators visited scores of fuel outlets and checked surveillance camera footage to identify those who had bought petrol in cans during the run-up to the crime.
Simultaneously, investigators were analysing recorded video footage from at least 50 cameras in the neighbourhood. Cyber experts were sifting through mobile phone communications pertinent to the time of the crime to identify potentially suspect devices if any.
They were also taking a hard look at persons involved in previous criminal activity and vandalism in the area. The police have interviewed neighbours and former employees of the ashram.
The police said the security cameras at the ashram had been defunct for long.
City Police Commissioner P. Prakash is heading the probe.