Kerala temple fire: Why did the police stand like mute spectators?

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Kollam, April 11: A high level inquiry was ordered following the terrible tragedy that occurred at the Puttingal temple. The probe team will have to go into various aspects before it comes out with a final report. Even as people are battling for their lives and thousands are mourning the dead, the blame game or an attempt to wash off one's hands has begun.

The police who were present at the spot watched the firecracker show despite knowing that there was a ban in place. In fact the police had sought an answer from the temple authorities and they were told that they had permission. However the temple authorities were unable to produce proof of the same.


Why did the police not act?

The police were aware of a ban order, but still did not act. The police say that they have their own problems. Had we used force and stopped the fireworks display it would have turned into another problem as devotees would have protested. There were 15,000 people there and the scene could have turned ugly.

The police are also back and forth on the exact nature of the permission for the fireworks display. The police say that they had clearly said no to the fireworks competition, but not to the display. However the ban order states that there shall be no fireworks. This is something that the inquiry committee would have to go into.

Some police officials say that their hands were tied. We were aware that there was a ban in place. But the other issue is that the fireworks display is an emotive issue for the devotees. There are plenty of things that have to be taken into consideration, police officials say. Had the accident not taken place, then the issue relating to the ban would have never come up, officials also say.

Communal slurs:

Some of the officials have said that they were abused when they issued the ban. The ban was issued after much consideration and inspection. The District Collector A Shainamol and Aditional District Magistrate A Shanavas were instrumental in issuing the ban. Officials say that both were accused of being communal.

The order that was issued by Shanavas reads, based on the inquiry reports and the application of the temple trust, it is understood that what is going to be held is not fireworks display, but competitive show by two groups. Hence, the temple trust's petition seeking permission is denied and the show is banned. Legal action as per the Explosives Act would be initiated against those who violate the order.


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