Sabarimala stampede: 'Consider cancelling pilgrimage through Pullmedu', says court

Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 20 (ANI): Unimpressed by the reports submitted before it on the Sabarimala stampede, the Kerala High Court has said if the government cannot take basic safety precautions, it should consider cancelling the pilgrimage through the tricky narrow stretch, where 102 pilgrims lost their lives at Pullmedu in Idukki district last Friday.

Kerala Director General of Police (DGP) and Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) filed the reports today before the division bench comprising Justice Thothathil B Radhakrishnan and Justice P S Gopinathan.

Reacting to the reports, the court said it wants an explanation for why more than thousand vehicles were allowed on the precariously narrow path used by pilgrims on the day the tragedy took place.

The court has also sought an answer from the government with regard to the shops clutter in the same area, and wants to know whether they have been set up with permission.

Earlier on Monday, the court had expressed displeasure over neglect of warnings on the safety of Sabarimala pilgrims and directed the police, forest department and board officials to file reports on the concerned matter by Thursday.

The court had on January 5 asked the authorities to regulate the flow of pilgrims to avoid disasters like stampede and had observed that there had been lack of co-ordination among various departments involved in conduct of the festival at Sabarimala, which attracts pilgrims during the two-month long season beginning mid-November.

"We want to know what had happened. Explain how the mishap occurred," said the bench.

At least 102 people were killed and 60 injured in a stampede while returning from the Sabarimala shrine when a jeep crashed into the pilgrims at Pullmedu in Kerala's Idukki district on Friday night.

Most of the victims, who perished were from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. They were returning home through the forest route after the Makarajyoti darshan, considered a celestial phenomenon, at the hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa. (ANI)

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