High Court pulls up Kerala govt over stampede
Kochi: The Kerala High Court today pulled up the state government for neglecting its warnings on safety of Sabarimala pilgrims and directed it to file a detailed report by Thursday on the stampede at Pullmedu that left 102 devotees dead.
A division bench comprising justices Thottathil Radhakrishnan and P S Gopinathan, monitoring the affairs relating to the Sabarimala pilgrimage, directed police and forest departments as also the Travancore Deveswom Board, which manages the temple, to furnish reports on the causes that led the tragedy.
The judges recalled that they had given a warning to the authorities on January five about the need to regulate the flow of pilgrims to avoid disasters like stampede.
The court also observed that there had been lack of co-ordination among various departments involved in conduct of the festival at Sabarimala, which attracts millions of pilgrims during the two-month long season from mid-Novermber.
“We want to know what had happened. Explain how the mishap occurred,” the judges said while giving the direction.
The court also sought to know from government details of the help provided to the injured and those stranded in the Pullumedu route in the forest area after the accident.
The stampede, one of the worst pilgrimage tragedies of recent times, happened when Ayappa devotees were heading home on Friday last after witnessing ‘makar jyoti’, considered an annual celestial phenomenon, with most victims hailing from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Kerala government has announced a judicial inquiry into the tragedy.
Lack of basic amenities like lighting, water supply and camping facilities, coupled with insufficient police deployment were blamed for the incident. Though Pullmedu route has been used by pilgrims from Tamil Nadu for long, the area had never been sufficiently covered by security and crowd management plans of Sabarimala pilgrimage.