Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Three cars with explosives seized near Puttingal temple

IGNATIUS PEREIRA in The Hindu



Two of the cars had registration numbers of Kollam district and one of Thiruvananthapuram district, say police.


Police said the cars, found parked in a suspicious manner, came to their attention on Sunday night after some nearby residents made complaints.

A day after the temple tragedy, in which the death toll rose to 109, three cars laden with explosives were seized by the police about 500 metres away from the Puttingal Devi temple at Paravur on Monday.

City Police Commissioner P. Prakash said the cars, found parked near the temple, came to the notice of the local people late on Sunday. They alerted the police. On Monday morning, the police cordoned off the area and examined the cars, which were found packed with explosives, some of which were of high intensity.

Since the State police did not have the expertise to defuse them, the task has been assigned to experts of the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation camping at Paravur for the investigation into Sunday’s explosions. Mr. Prakash said two of the cars carried Kollam registration numbers and one Thiruvananthapuram. Their ownership was being verified with the Transport Department.

Meanwhile, three more persons succumbed to burns on Monday. Among the dead, 14 bodies are yet to be identified.

A total of 879 people were injured and 305 of them were under treatment in various hospitals, an official statement issued by the office of the Health Minister said. There are 61 persons being treated at the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Hospital (MCH), 30 at Kollam District Hospital and the rest in various private sector hospitals in both districts. Union Minister for Health J.P. Nadda visited the MCH on Monday and reviewed the facilities there.

The highest number of deaths, 59, was at the Kollam District Hospital.Meanwhile, the Crime Branch CID, which took over the investigation from the Paravur police, has registered cases against six persons. Among those listed in the case are four members of the Puttingal Devi Temple Devaswom Committee, fireworks contractor Varkala Krishnankutty, who is in a critical condition after suffering burns, and Kazhakuttam Surendran. Five of the accused are absconding.

They have been charged under Sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder ) and 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 3 of the Explosives Act (unlawfully and maliciously causing explosion that endangers life and property).

(With inputs from C. Maya)

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