Dragon Fire may have Caused Kollam Tragedy
Explosives smuggled in via sea from China, may have contained material prohibited for use in fire crackers
New Delhi: There could be a ‘Chinese hand’ in the Kollam temple tragedy. The Centre is investigating the source of the explosives and crackers used for the fireworks during the festivities amid indications that they could have been smuggled through the sea route from Chinese shores and may contain material prohibited for use in fire crackers. The commerce ministry has asked the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion to send a team to Kollam’s Paravoor, where fireworks at the festivities at the Puttingal Devi temple went out of control kill- ing 113 in the wee hours of April 10. A source said that the commerce ministry dispatched a team to the
A NATIONAL CALAMITY
spot hours after the incident. On Tuesday, the ministry decided to send a high-level team from New Delhi as the issue needed to be probed thoroughly. With firecrackers from Sivakasi not allowed into Kollam for the annual event, the suspicion is that the organisers may have sourced them from Chinese smugglers.
“These explosives were clearly not made in Sivakasi. There are indications that they were smuggled via sea route from China, months in advance. The modus operandi is to hide these explosives in cartons in between other stuff and they pass through scanners undetected at the ports,” a senior official said. The connivance of port authorities is also not being ruled out.
The material used in the firecrackers appear to be prohibited and could have caused a bigger tragedy that what happened. The administration had denied permission for fireworks at the temple. Three cars full of explosives were seized a day after the tragedy. Other unused explosives from the spot are also likely to be examined. The trail from the local level to the ports and beyond will also be examined. Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy chaired a meeting of his Cabinet on Wednesday, where a decision was taken to request the Centre to declare the incident as a national calamity as it had claimed 113 lives. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had visited the spot soon after the incident.