Kerala BJP seeks CBI, NIA probe into temple disaster

Thiruvananthapuram, April 16 (IANS) The Kerala BJP on Saturday sought a probe by the CBI and the NIA into the temple disaster that left 114 people dead and over 350 injured late last Saturday night during an illegal fireworks display at the Puttingal Devi temple.

The demand was made as the state Bharatiya Janata Party suspects foul play in the disaster that occurred in Paravur town a week ago.

Addressing reporters here, State BJP president Kummanem Rajasekheran, on Saturday said that in the light of the Kerala high court asking a police team to probe if anti-national elements had played a role in the disaster, is all the more serious.

“To probe the angle of what the court indicated, a mere crime branch police probe won’t suffice. It’s only a CBI or perhaps a NIA probe that would be able to investigate such things,” Rajasekheran said.

“What must be noted is that how did so much explosives reach the temple venue and even when there are very clear cut guidelines regarding stocking of such materials, it’s strange that authorities were silent.”

He also came down heavily on the way senior state government officials have reacted to the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the day the disaster occurred.

“It’s strange that the state police chief and the top health department official commented on the visit of Modi that it led to lot of confusion for the patients,” said the state BJP president.

“Yes, even though Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had welcomed the visit, it’s baffling to note that officials are being used as a tool to speak on the visit of Modi. When the Sabarimala temple tragedy occurred which left more than 100 devotees dead in a stampede on 2011, the prime minister never visited the place nor did Rahul Gandhi who was in the state at that time go there,” he added.

In a related development, 13 people arrested for the temple disaster, including seven temple officials and six employees of the fireworks contractor, were produced before a local court in Kollam district on Saturday and were sent to the custody of the crime branch till April 20.

The court expressed surprise at none of the temple officials suffering any injury.

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