Temple managers among six booked for Kerala blaze

World Monday 11/April/2016 22:46 PM
By: Times News Service
Temple managers among six booked for Kerala blaze

Kollam (Kerala): Police has registered a case of attempt to murder and other offences against six persons, including members of temple managing committee and associates of firework contractors in connection with the Putttingal Devi temple fire tragedy, even as the toll on Monday rose to 112.
A case has been registered against six persons including temple authorities under section 307 (attempt to murder), and 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide) of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and under section 4 of Explosives Substances Act.
Besides the members of the temple managing committee, case was also registered against assistants of contractors who held the ‘competitive’ pyrotechnic display, despite a ban on it by the district administration in South Indian state of Kerala.
A crime branch probe also began on Monday into the fireworks tragedy. A day after the devastating fireworks accident, that also left 383 people injured, a Kerala High Court Judge wrote to the court seeking its intervention for an immediate ban on use of high-decible explosive crackers in all Kerala temples. The is likely to come up for hearing on Tuesday.
Officials of the Crime Branch and personnel from the office of Chief Controller of Explosives collected evidence from the accident spot, situated about 70km from Thiruvananthapuram.
The toll rose to 112 with two persons succumbing to their injuries while around 300 were still under treatment at various hospitals for burns and other injuries, a release from the Chief Minister’s Office said.
The condition of seven persons admitted to the Medical College Hosptial here was serious, state Health Minister V S Sivakumar said. The accident occurred at the 100-year-old Puttingal Devi Temple complex during an unauthorised display of fireworks early Sunday morning after a spark from a firecracker fell on the storehosue containing crackers, triggering explosions.
Of the deceased, 14 were yet to be identified as the charred bodies made the task difficult, official sources said.
Meanwhile, at least 100kg of explosive materials have been seized from a storehouse at nearby Attingal, police said. Besides two cars with some raw materials used for crackers were also recovered by police. The growing calls for ban on such fireworks display in temples in the wake of the Puttingal tragedy had its echo in the high court with Justice V. Chitambaressh writting to the Registrar General suggesting a ban on use of high decibel crackers.
“The time is more than ripe for immediate judicial intervention to stop such man-made tragedies by banning the use of high decibel explosive fire crackers,” he said adding his letter could be considered as a PIL. The ‘Devaswom Bench’ of the court, which deals with matters related to temples, comprising Justices Thottathil B Radhakrishnan and Anu Sivaraman is likely to consider the matter on Tuesday.
Earlier, the Travancore Devaswom Board, which manages about 1,255 temples in the state, said it was not for a complete ban on such fireworks displays. TDB President Prayar Gopalakrishnan said the board was against banning pyrotechnics during temple festivals as they were part of rituals, but added they should be staged as per restrictions of government and court orders with sufficient safety measures.