Court asks for revised reports on Sabarimala stampede



Kochi: A division bench of the Kerala High Court on Monday asked the forest department and the devaswom department's special commissioner in Sabarimala to revise their reports on the Jan 14 stampede that killed 102 people as there were too many discrepancies.

The bench comprising Justices Thottathil B Radhakrishnan and PS Gopinathan had studied three separate reports on the Pulumedu tragedy -- from the police and the forest and devaswom departments -- near the Sabarimala shrine submitted last week.

The judges said they were not interested in a report from Thiruvananthapuram (the headquarters of the Travancore Devaswom Board that looks after temples) and instead wanted an account from "ground zero". It therefore asked the department's Sabarimala special commissioner to submit what had happened at the accident site.

The case has been posted for Feb 11.

The stampede occurred around 8 pm Jan 14 when the pilgrims were returning after watching the celestial Makara Jyothi light, the most important event of the two-month pilgrimage, from a hillock in Pulumedu, some 30 km from the Sabarimala temple in Pathanamthitta district, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa.

Following this, the high court had taken suo motu cognisance of the issue and had last Monday asked the three departments to submit a report.

The bench was critical of the forest department and said there was no mention of who led the 50-member official team posted in and around the accident site.

The court also wanted more details on who gave the sanction for the numerous temporary shops at the accident site and also who was responsible for the parking of vehicles.

Besides, the judges wanted the forest department to clarify facts about a chain used to control the crowds.

Counsel for the state wanted more time to file the report because police officials investigating the case had gone to Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to conduct more inquiries.

IANS