Kerala: Temple committee members arrested, High Court passes strictures against fireworks display

Thiruvananthapuram, April 12, 2016

7 officials surrender in Kollam temple inferno case
Two days after a massive explosion during a fireworks display at the Puttingal Devi temple at Paravur in Kollam district of Kerala left at least 116 people dead and more than 380 injured, the police arrested 13 people including seven office bearers of the temple while the Kerala High Court today passed severe strictures to control the use of high decibel fireworks at night.
While five of the temple committee, including its president PS Jayalal, Secretary Krishnankutty Pillai, J Prasad, Somasundram Pillai and Ravindran Pillai had surrendered last night, another office bearer, Surendran Pillai was arrested in the morning.
Severely criticising the police and local administration in allowing the fireworks display to go ahead without obtaining proper permission, the High Court said that, even during daytime, fireworks display should not exceed 140 decibels. The court also directed the local administration and the police to submit separate affidavits on the incident.
The court said fireworks displays should be held only after following all safety precautions and there should be no outside interference in granting of license.
A division bench headed by Justice Thottathil B Radhakrishnan, taking up a letter from Justice Chidambaresh as a PIL also included the Union Government and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as respondents in the case.   
Meanwhile, one of the contractors who supplied the fireworks, Surendran, 67, from Kazhakuttam, Thiruvananathapuram, who had sustained 90% burn injuries, died in a hospital today. His son Umesh, 35, who was also admitted to hospital, was discharged after treatment. Police said his second son Deepu, 33, had gone missing from the hospital. Earlier, authorities had filed cases against Surendran and his sons for possession of explosives without authorisation. His license had also expired on March 31 and he had applied for conducting the fireworks display at Puttingal temple concealing this fact, police said.
In another development, Additional Director General of Police Anantha Krishnan, heading the crime branch investigation into the mishap, said the fireworks competition was held after misleading the local administration which had denied permission earlier. The temple committee claimed that verbal permission was granted on informing them that it would only be a fireworks display.
Paravur police had charged around 30 people including the temple committee members, the contractors of the fireworks display and his workers under charges of culpable homicide. Five employees of the fireworks contractor Surendran are already in police custody.
Meanwhile, DNA tests will be conducted on unclaimed bodies while 21 people were still missing after the mishap. Their family members have been asked to reach Kollam for the tests till tomorrow with identity proof of the missing persons.
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