Kochi | Thammanam, a suburban residential area within the Kochi city limits, was shaken to its core as a man, described as "nice" by his neighbours, claimed responsibility for the devastating blasts that left three dead at a Christian group's religious gathering a day ago.
Dominic Martin, who had been residing in a rented accommodation for over five years, surrendered himself to the police, leaving the residents in utter shock and disbelief.
Jaleel, the houseowner, attested to Martin's amiable nature, recalling instances of his gentle gestures, such as voluntarily increasing the rent by Rs 1,000 without any request being made for that.
"He was such a person who hiked the rent by Rs 1,000 himself and gave it to me without asking for it," Jaleel told PTI.
Despite his modest education—a 10th class pass —Martin displayed a talent for languages, teaching spoken English to local children in his neighbourhood.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced him to seek employment as an electrical foreman in Dubai.
Martin's family, including his wife and daughter, maintained a close relationship with Jaleel's household.
His son pursues higher education in the UK, while his daughter studies in Kochi.
Sakkeer, the ward councillor of the area, disclosed that Martin left the house in the early hours of Sunday, indicating to his wife about his plan to visit a friend.
"He had touched the feet of his wife and told her that he was going. Martin had told his wife the previous day that he would be leaving early on Sunday to meet a friend of his," he said.
Sakkeer, although unfamiliar with Martin personally, praised the wife and children for their good-natured behaviour.
"I have gone to their house once as they needed help getting the Aadhaar card," Sakkeer said.
Jaleel said the revelation of Martin's involvement has left the residents in a state of shock.
"We were all in a state of shock and could not believe it. Police searched the house and talked to the family. But they did not get any evidence from here, I guess," Jaleel said.
Police conducted a forensic examination at Jaleel's residence following Martin's surrender, but no incriminating evidence was found, he said.
Currently, four individuals remain in critical condition with severe burn injuries, while 14 others receive treatment for less severe burns.
Over 50 individuals were injured, some seriously, during the multiple blasts at the international convention centre in Kalamassery where the followers from the minority Christian group, Jehovah's Witnesses, had gathered for the final day of a three-day-long prayer meeting.
A few hours after the incident, Martin, claiming to be an estranged member of Jehovah's Witnesses, surrendered before police in Thrissur district of the state, saying that he carried out the multiple blasts