The Kerala High Court on Tuesday banned noise-generating fireworks at places of worship in the state post sunset, reported PTI. The court also observed that the Central Bureau of Investigation should launch an inquiry into the massive fire that broke out at Kollam’s Puttingal Devi temple on Sunday, in which 110 people were killed. It also sought the state government's opinion on the matter.
While the Kerala government informed the court that fireworks were not allowed to be taken inside the temple premises, the High Court questioned how the police could have permitted the inflammable substances inside, ANI reported. The fire was ignited by a fireworks explosion.
The court also directed the police and the district administration to submit a separate affidavit on the incident, saying strict action needs to be taken against those involved for "dereliction of duty". Besides temple authorities, the court also held the revenue department responsible for the mishap.
Thirteen people, including seven from the temple's management committee, were arrested on Tuesday. Earlier in the day, five officials of the temple in Kollam, who were reportedly absconding from the police, surrendered, PTI reported. Police registered a case of attempt to murder against them in connection with the fire. Reports said around 10,000 devotees were at the location when the incident took place early on Sunday. Police also found three cars laden with high-intensity explosives near the temple on Monday.
On Monday, Kerala High Court judge Justice Chitambaresh wrote to the Chief Justice seeking his intervention in the matter. He also sought a ban on “high-decibel explosive firecrackers”. The court will hear the matter later on Tuesday.
Investigators said they found traces of banned substances in the firecrackers, which they said might have caused the high death toll. A team led by the state’s chief controller (explosives) is investigating the incident, and a state crime branch will also lead an inquiry into the fire. On Monday, Kerala’s Travancore Devaswom Board, which manages all the state’s temples, said it would not support a ban on fireworks at places of worship.