The main accused in the Petlawad blast case, Rajendra Kaswa, is dead, police said on Monday citing a DNA report.
It took almost two months for the police to confirm Kaswa’s death, primarily because witnesses had given conflicting versions about the explosion that took place on September 12.
The explosion, which killed 78 people, was caused by gelatin sticks illegally stored at Kaswa’s warehouse in Madhya Pradesh’s Jhabua district. Most of the bodies were identified, but a few unidentified bodies and body parts were kept in Indore’s M Y Hospital.
Presuming Kaswa was alive, the police launched a hunt for him amid rumours that he had fled to Nepal. After his wife, now under arrest, and children were traced, the police sent their DNA samples to the forensic laboratory in Sagar, where the DNA samples of the victims had been sent earlier. The DNA sample of Rajendra Kaswa’s son Shubham matched one of the unidentified specimens, Additional SP Seema Alawa told The Indian Express.
The statements by witnesses had created some confusion in the case. Some of the witnesses claimed they saw Kaswa opening his fertilizer shop that day, some said he was in the crowd while others insisted he was not at the site at all and fled after hearing about the explosion. There were also various versions about who exactly opened the shop: Kaswa, his employee or the son of the landlord.
The explosion and the failure to arrest the accused was a major issue in the recent parliamentary election in Ratlam (ST) constituency, which includes Petlawad town. The Congress had claimed that Kaswa was associated with the trader cell of the BJP. The claim that he was an RSS activist was dismissed by both the RSS and BJP.
Alawa said the police would file a chargesheet soon.