Stampede: Police to submit initial report in 4 days

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Vandiperiyar (Ker), Jan 16 (PTI) Forensic experts and aspecial team of the Crime Branch of Kerala police probedFriday''s stampede at Pullumedu near Sabarimala that claimed102 lives and are expected to submit their report next week.

S Surendran, heading the crime branch team, said the reportincluding forensic findings would be submitted to AdditionalDirector General of Police (Crime Branch) Vinson M Paul infour days.

The six-member team visited the accident spot and gatheredevidence. Forensic experts also visited Pullumedu area wherethe mishap occurred, official sources said.

Besides the Crime Branch probe, Kerala government has alsoannounced a judicial inquiry into the mishap which occurredwhen devotees were heading home after witnessing ''MakaraJyoti'' (celestial light on the eastern horizon which marks theculmination of the two month long pilgrimage season.

Initial reports had stated that a minor accident involving ajeep and an autorickshaw led to a commotion triggering thestampede.

Police today denied reports that sufficient number ofpersonnel were not deployed along the Pullumedu route and saidit was the Forest Department''s responsibility to makeadequate arrangements as the area is part of Periyar TigerReserve.

Meanwhile, six more bodies at Kumali hospital wereidentified and arrangements made to transport them to theirrespective towns. Most of the deceased were from Tamil Nadu.

The identity of four more victims is yet to beascertained, hospital sources said.

Meanwhile, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA)is expected to seek a detailed report from the state WildlifeDepartment on the stampede in the Periyar Tiger Reserve.

A senior Wildlife official said it was normal for NTCA toseek details of accidents in a tiger reserve.

NTCA had taken serious note of reports of unregulated entryof vehicles into the sanctuary without permission, he said.

"For matters concerning belief and tradition, some kind ofrelaxation can be given. But now that a tragedy of such amagnitude has taken place, we have to ponder over what type ofimprovement should be made on regulating people and vehiclesin the area", the official told PTI.

The NTCA would ask the Field Director of PTR to submit thedetails, he said.

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