Expressing anguish over the neglect of its warning on the safety of Sabarimala pilgrims, the Kerala High Court on Monday directed the state government to submit a report on Friday's stampede near the hill shrine in which 102 pilgrims were killed.
Taking suo motu cognizance of the stampede, the division bench of Justice Thottathil Radahkrishnan and P Bhavadasan observed that they had given a warning to authorities on January 5 - after an elderly pilgrim had died in the mad rush a day earlier - to regulate the flow of pilgrims to avert a possible tragedy.
"We want to know what really happened. Explain how the mishap occurred by next Thursday," the bench told the state government and Travancore Dewasom Board, which manages the shrine.
The court also sought details of the help given to the injured and those stranded in Pulumeda village, where the stampede took place.
During the pilgrimage season - between November and January - around 40 million visit the shrine, in the midst of Periyar Tiger Reserve in the Western Ghats. The shrine has witnessed two big disasters - in 1954, 65 people were charred to death and in 1999, 54 were killed in a stampede.
The court had cautioned the government several times on the need for better coordination among departments. State governments have ignored two previous reports - one in 1992 and the other in 2007 submitted by Justice (Retd) KS Paripoornan, who gave 70 recommendations, none of which has been implemented.
State home minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said the crime branch would submit its report in a couple of days.
(With agency inputs)