The Kerala state crime branch on Friday filed a chargesheet against 59 people for causing massive explosion and fire that killed about 100 people during Puttingal temple festival in Kollam district of Kerala four years ago. More than 600 people were injured in the tragedy.
“The chargesheet has been filed for murder, handling explosives very callously and without authorisation, destruction of public property. They have been booked under 11 sections”, IG S Sreejith, the officer supervising the probe told NDTV.
“Among the accused are 15 temple authorities. They decided to go ahead with the festivity against the government order that this could not take place. Those who own the blast licenses and aided and abetted these blasts have also been chargesheeted. They did not have permission for the fireworks but they had almost 5,500 kg stored, far more than the permissible levels”, IG Sreejit said.
Police say the firecracker show, supported by the temple authorities, was a gross violation of norms because the district administration had on April 8, 2016, denied permission for the same. The festival was scheduled for April 10.
Forensic teams found Potassium Chlorate in the explosives which has been banned by the Union government for use in fireworks.
Disaster struck the crowded precincts of the Puttingal Devi Temple at Paravur, south of Kollam, around 3.30 a.m. on April 10, 2016, when an entire dump of fire crackers meant to be burst to mark the conclusion of the Meena-Bharani festival exploded, killing over 40 persons instantly, maiming many more and causing extensive damage to nearby buildings. The death toll later exceeded the 100 mark.
Eyewitnesses said disaster struck when a cracker meant to explode in the air fell to the ground, sending sparks flying in all directions. The sparks reached the storehouse, igniting fireworks stored there. The explosion that followed brought down a building and caused damage to several structures in the vicinity.