Seven office-bearers of the Puttingal Devi temple, where a fireworks tragedy killed more than 100 people and injured over 300 in north Kerala on April 10, were taken into custody by the police early on Tuesday.
Sources said Crime Branch officials were questioning the temple’s seven managing committee members, including the trust president, who had gone missing ever since the incident occurred.
A fire had broken out on Sunday morning during a banned fireworks display that went awry. A case was filed against the temple authorities for conducting the pyrotechnic display despite not being granted permission by the district administration. Officials also said that safety guidelines were ignored during the display.
While temple trust president SL Jayalal, secretary J Krishnankutty and three other members — Shivaprasad, Surendran Pillai and Ravindran Pillai — surrendered before Crime Branch officers, two more — Surendranathan Pillai and Murugesan — were picked up by the police.
A case was registered against at least 20 people, including managing committee members and the contractors responsible for the fireworks display.
The authorities were booked under different sections of the Indian Penal code, including section 307 for attempt to murder, 308 for attempt to culpable homicide and section 4 of the explosive substances act. Contractors who organised the show were also booked, six of who were already detained. The main contractor, Surendran, is currently in the hospital, battling for his life after being injured in the accident.
Investigations into the accident indicate that the crackers used by the temple were made of banned chemicals. Sudarshan Kamal, chief controller of explosives in charge of monitoring the use, storage and licensing of such items, visited the accident site and pointed to “gross violation of explosive norms”.
The scale of the tragedy led to locals and other bodies seeking a ban on the practice of bursting crackers during temple festivities. The Kerala High court will hear a plea regarding the same on Tuesday morning.