Tragedy struck in Kollam, as a massive firecracker explosion occurred late at midnight. At least 106 people are feared dead and over 280 injured after firecrackers at the Puttingal temple in the coastal town of Paravur located about 60 kms from the state capital exploded uncontrollably, early on Sunday. The gruesome incident occurred around 3:30 am on Sunday. Post such tragic event, it has now been learned that the Kollam temple authorities have refused to budge to the ongoing protests which have asked for Ban of firecrackers in the temple’s vicinity.
Travancore Devaswom Board, one of the most influential temple bodies in the state that governs over 1200 temples, has refused to ban fireworks display, during the festivities, stating such a measure would undermine the glory and age old traditions and added that it is the responsibility of the security authorities to take care of it.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Kollam, where a team of 15 burn specialists had accompanied him. Describing the tragedy as “unimaginable”, Prime Minister Modi assured Kerala government and its people all help. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi too, visited the spot — located 60 km from state capital Thiruvananthapuram. The Chief Minister announced Rs. 10 lakh compensation for the families of the deceased, Rs. 2 lakh for those seriously injured and Rs. 50,000 for ones who have sustained minor injuries.
A police case has been registered against the temple officials who fled the spot after the tragedy. A team of crime branch has taken over the investigation and a case has been filed against the fireworks’ contractor. Kerala Home Minister Ramesh Cheennithala said “Actually, it is not a police failure,” on being asked why police had not stopped the fireworks since it was not permitted. “When lakhs of people are assembled here, if there is police action, it will have another problem. So, we have to consider all these aspects” he said.