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Kerala temple fire: 'Was threatened', says woman who complained against the fireworks

India TV News Desk 11 Apr 2016, 7:48:36 IST
India TV News Desk

Kollam: The woman on whose complaint fireworks were banned at the Puttingal temple in Kerala's Kollam, has claimed that her family was threatened and told to withdraw the plea given to the district administration.

Octogenarian Pankajakshi Amma said that on Saturday, her son-in-law, Prakash, was asked to recall the petition to the district collector as that complaint had led to the ban of the fireworks show.

“They talked in a threatening manner. Apart from that, another person, supposed to be associated with the temple trust, turned up at the house and spoke abusively to me,’’ she said.

Pankajakshi Amma lives barely 25 metres from the spot where a massive fire broke out early on Sunday, killing over 100 and leaving 350 injured.

"My house is 25 metres from the place where the fireworks are stored. I complained against the fireworks display to the temple authorities," said Pankajakshi.

A portion of Pankajakshi’s single-storey house was damaged in Sunday’s tragedy. The temple management had ignored her repeated pleas to stop the fireworks show for over four years.

"We used to move away from the house during the time of the fireworks display every year. This time also, we were not at the house and we were staying at another house, owned by us," her son-law Prakash told PTI.

The woman, who saw it coming, had first raised her concerns in 2012 after the unregulated fireworks display caused extensive damage to her house.

The temple management did not heed her plea to stop the display of fireworks since the last four years when the house was built. An inconsolable Pankajakshi, who is living with her daughter and son-in-law, looked shocked at the damage caused to her building and over the many lives lost in the tragedy.

She vowed to continue her fight and resort to legal steps to ensure a total ban on fireworks display. Prakash said the temple management had even threatened them when they took up the complaint with the district authorities.

"The house was built four years ago. In the first year itself, the building was damaged and doors had been broken in the fireworks display," he said. Pankajakshi and her family had approached the district administration requesting a ban on the fireworks display this year.

Though  revenue officials had visited them to verify the complaint and informed them that there was a stay on the display, it was, however, held, Prakash said.