Six Dead and Guns Hired after the Kerala Blasts
Image inside the convention center after the Kalamassery blast

India: Six dead; Guns hired

November 26, 2023: Praveen (24) is the sixth person to have died after a man identified as Dominic Martin detonated a number of home-made devices almost a month ago. Jehovah’s Witnesses have since stepped up security at their conventions in India. They have hired private security agencies who will deploy armed guards.

Kerala, India – The number of deaths has risen to six (6) after Praveen succumbed to his burn injuries on Friday, November 17, 2023. He was the elder brother of 12-year-old Libina and son of Sally (45), both of whom have also died as a result of the explosions.

Praveen was being treated at a private hospital and was described as being in a critical condition prior to his death. His younger brother had earlier been discharged from hospital for treatment for lesser burns.

The Kerala state government has set aside ₹5 lakh ($5,000)  as an ex gratia payment to help compensate each of the families of those killed in the explosions. This money comes from the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF). The government will also underwrite the medical expenses of all who sustained burns and injuries in the blasts.

In reference to the ₹5 lakh ($5,000)  offered to each of the families who had lost loved ones in the blast, Satish Joseph, a member of the’ Public Information Department (PID) at India’s national headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses said, “We are very grateful for the additional help offered to us by the government apart from what we as a community offered to the victims and their families. Accepting the additional compensation offered by the government is a personal matter of the individuals and their families.”

Satish Joseph  pledged to use enhanced security measures at future meeting events. This includes the use of armed guards.

Joseph explained that Jehovah’s Witnesses were taking several measures to ensure the safety of its followers. He said, “We live in such an uncertain world where such horrific incidents are carried out by such people. So, from our side we want to ensure all safety and security measures are followed for the rest of the conventions, meetings and gatherings.”

“If required, we will be very happy to take help from the police as well because safety is a priority and life is of the utmost value to Jehovah’s Witnesses,” Joseph said. “For Jehovah’s Witnesses, life is very sacred and highly precious and we want to do everything possible to safeguard lives”.

“We have also hired private security agencies. They will deploy armed security guards”, Joseph reveals. “Now we are going to be more vigilant. We will be tightening up the measures which are already in place.”

He added that the World Headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses would not be funding these costly security measures but that they would be funded by donations from existing members and any other voluntary contributions from those visiting their places of worship.

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