Sabarimala: Dec 4: About 360 kilograms of explosives have been found at a forest closed to the Lord Aiyappa temple at Sabarimala, Kerala. The siezure was made during a combing operation conducted by the police and forest officials.
The bomb squad which was part of the operation detected the explosives which the police now suspect was abandoned by a fireworks contractor. High security was in place ahead of the anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition on December 6.
Investigations have found that the explosives were abandoned by a fireworks contractor. Police officials say that the material was brought for the 'vedi vazhipadu', a ritual fireworks display, held annually at Sabari Peetam as part of the Vishu festival at the shrine. Police officials say that the ritual has been banned by the forest department. In view of the ban, the explosives may have been banned, police officials also suspect.
During the combing operations, the police found explosives kept in 12 containers each weighing about 30 kgs. The explosives were found just 3 kilometres away from the hillock shrine. The explosive material has been kept at a special place maintained by Travancore Devaswom Board near the Sannidhanam (main shrine).
Police officials say that investigations have shown that there is no terror link to this incident. Our probe suggests that the explosives were dumped by a fireworks contractor. We are however probing further into the matter, police officials also said.
It may be recalled that in April, a fireworks show had gone awry at the Puttingal temple in Kerala in which 108 persons had died. Disaster had struck at the temple when an entire dump of fire crackers meant to be burst to mark the conclusion of the Meena-Bharani festival exploded.
A few months back the forest department had banned the ritual fireworks to be held at the Sabari Peetam. After the search operations were completed, it was found that the plastic containers in which the explosives were stored had mud and dirt on it. This indicates that the explosives were lying there for a very long time.