Puttingal Devi temple tragedy: Seven committee members held

Contractors were told ‘oral sanction’ had been obtained for firework display.

Updated - November 28, 2021 12:45 pm IST

Published - April 12, 2016 07:09 am IST - KOLLAM/Thiruvananthapuram

The Kerala Crime Branch CID on Tuesday arrested seven members of the Puttingal Devi temple committee in connection with Sunday’s fireworks tragedy. Five of them had surrendered before the Crime Branch on Monday and two on Tuesday.

The members admitted that they had informed the fireworks contractors that “oral sanction” from a competent authority had been obtained for conducting the pyrotechnics display. They are also reported to have said that the display should be competitive so that the expectations of the massive crowd gathered at the temple were not belied.

Since the fireworks for the traditional display are strictly limited, the contractors were asked not to store the entire stock at the ‘kambapura’ (fireworks storehouse) in the temple precincts. So, in addition to storing a reserve amount in three cars a short distance away from the temple, the contractors also stocked huge quantities of explosives at various houses in the locality. At intervals, these were brought to the storehouse, the committee members reportedly told the Crime Branch officials.

The police, along with forensic experts, have embarked on a search operation in the area to unearth such stocks. The explosives in the cars were carefully despatched to a safe location in a granite quarry at Pooyapally on Tuesday. The police said although one car had a fake registration number, all three cars belonged to one of the contractors.

Four employees of the contractors were arrested earlier including two experts from Tamil Nadu.

The death toll in the Paravur fireworks tragedy rose to 113 on Tuesday. Surendran, 67, of Kazhakuttam, the contractor who had taken up the job of fireworks display, died at the Thiruvananthapuram Government Medical College Hospital on Tuesday. He was admitted with over 80 per cent burns on Sunday morning.

All-party meeting

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has said he would convene an all-party meeting on April 14 to discuss if a ban should be enforced on fireworks in the State following the Paravur fireworks tragedy and other related issues.

He was briefing the media at the Government Medical College Hospital here on Tuesday after attending a review meeting to discuss the course of treatment for the seriously injured victims of the accident.

Mr. Chandy said 13 bodies were to be identified and 21 persons were reported to be missing.

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