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Kerala HC bans high-decibel fireworks in places of worship

High-decibel fireworks in the night was on Tuesday banned in places of worship across Kerala even as 13 persons, including seven members of the Puttingal temple managing committee, were arrested in connection with the tragedy on Sunday that killed 111 people.

Treating a letter from one of its judges as PIL, the Kerala High Court directed a ban on the use of sound- generating fireworks between sunset and sunrise in places of worship, an order that came on a day the state government called an all-party meet on Thursday to discuss whether to impose a ban or not.

The court asked the state government to examine whether a CBI probe is necessary to go into the Paravoor temple tragedy.

It also expressed anguish over police incorporating lighter provisions of law with regard to offences against the accused and asked why the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder was not applied against them.

The court, however, said that during day time, the sound of explosives cannot exceed the permitted limit. Colours and light performance without making sound may be permitted at festivals at night.

As a word of caution, the High Court asked whether there was involvement of anti nationals in the Sunday tragedy as the area is surrounded by high seas.

With police hot on their heels, the temple trust President Jayalal, Secretary, J Krishnankutty and members Shivaprasad, Surendran Pillai, Ravindran Pillai surrendered before the Crime Branch police in the wee-hours on Tuesday.

Two other managing committee Surendranathan Pillai and Murugesan were picked up by police here this morning. Tuesday’s arrests included six workers associated with the two fireworks contractors in connection with the mishap.

When asked about the progress in the investigation, Ananthakrishnan, ADGP (Crime Branch) said the probe is on. The temple committee took permission for a single fireworks display but later made it a competitive display that led to the disaster, he said. 

The Kerala government on Tuesday held a high-level meeting to review the progress of the various relief activities and treatment facilities being provided.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who chaired the meeting, also decided to formulate a policy on fireworks after reaching a consensus at the all party meeting to be held on ‘Vishu’ (Kerala New Year).

Chandy said the government had earmarked Rs 20 crore for relief and rehabilitation of the victims of the tragedy and already Rs 10 crore had been released to the Kollam District Collector for immediate action.

The accident had occurred during an ‘unauthorised’ competitive fireworks display in the wee hours of Sunday after a spark from a firecracker fell on the storehouse containing crackers, triggering explosions.

One of two who died on Tuesday is a fireworks contractor, Surendran, who had suffered 90 per cent burn injuries and had also undergone an emergency surgery for injuries in his large intestine.

The condition of 27 injured persons in various hospitals in Kollam and state capital is said to be critical and at least 21 persons are missing from nearby Paravoor since the Sunday mishap in which over 1000 had undertaken treatment as out patients in various hospitals.
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