Fireworks at all Kerala temples must be banned immediately, a judge has suggested, a day after 108 people died and 400 were injured in a massive fire at a temple in the coastal district of Kerala.

The Kerala High Court will hold a special session tomorrow to consider the request.

But earlier today, the powerful Travancore Devasam board, which governs nearly 1,000 temples in the state, said it will not accept a ban on fireworks and that it’s the government’s responsibility to ensure the safety of devotees.

Kerala is in the middle of campaigning for elections -voting will be held on May 16. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy of the Congress and local officials have all asserted that the Puttingal Devi temple in Kerala had been refused permission for a fireworks display over the weekend.

In defiance, the temple officials went ahead the annual tradition  ahead of new year celebrations of a lengthy and elaborate fireworks display that turned disastrous when sparks ignited a cache of fireworks stored inside the temple grounds. The explosions that followed were so powerful that the roof of an administrative building within the complex was blown off.

Rescue workers said work in the hours after the tragedy was impaired because there was no electricity at the temple grounds. There was also no temple manager present at the site to guide them.

The police has filed charges of attempted murder and attempted culpable homicide against the temple authorities, some of whom are now missing, and the men who held the license for the explosives because of their illegal possession of a large amount of explosives.


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