The woman whose complaint had prompted the Kollam district administration in Kerala to deny permission for fireworks at the temple has said that she was threatened to recall her plea.
Pankajakshi, according to Indian Express, said that her son-in-law was on Saturday was asked to withdraw the complaint, lodged before the district collector.
She said, “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.”
News agency PTI quoted her saying, “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…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.”
A portion of her houses has been damaged in the tragedy on Sunday. She said that her family had relocated themselves due to the planned fireworks to another house owned by them.
She said that people in the area were unhappy with the fireworks but didn’t complain because of the superstition that a complaint against temple’s fireworks would result in unexpected wrath.
She said, “I had complained to the district collector on April 1 against the fireworks show as it had damaged my house near the temple. Besides, the huge noise created by the show, which lasted several hours, had been causing health problems for us. I am a heart patient. Every year, during the festival, I have to move away from my house, which is only 25-metre away from the temple.”
Pankajakshi has now vowed to take every legal recourse to ensure there’s a total ban on fireworks in future.
Officials at every level had recommended denial of permission to the Puttingal temple for the fireworks show, and a day before it, banned the display. The powerful temple administration simply ignored the order, helped along by local politicians with an eye on elections.
Additional District Magistrate A Shanavas and District Collector A Shainamol, who were instrumental in denying permission for the fireworks, were also bullied and threatened by local politicians and Hindu groups, with communal motives attributed to their actions.