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Kerala High Court wants ‘truth’ behind Makara Jyothi light
Kochi, Jan 20 (IANS):
Published on 21 Jan. 2011 12:12 AM IST
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A division bench of the Kerala High Court Thursday came down heavily on the state government and the Devaswom Board in connection with the Sabarimala stampede tragedy and directed that the “truth” should come out on the Makara Jyothi that is believed to be a celestial light.
The bench consisting of Justice Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan and Justice P. Bhavadasan said they are serious on the matter of the Makara Jyothi and the state government and the Devaswom Board (the department that runs the affairs of the Sabarimala temple) should say if this light is man-made or not.
The court, which went through the report filed by the various departments of the state government on the stampede in Pulumedu, near Sabarimala, that left 102 dead, also voiced its displeasure over very few guards being allowed in the area, which is a forest reserve. It also asked how could thousands of people and vehicles be allowed in the area.
Asking the Kerala government and the Devaswom Board to reveal the facts behind the Makara Jyothi, that appears thrice on the horizon at Sabarimala on the last day of the pilgrimage, the court said: “Even if you may argue that this is a question of belief, people should be told the truth and we will see that you come out with the truth and we are capable of that.”
The counsel of Devaswom board argued with the court that the Makara Jyothi was an issue of belief.
On Monday, the bench had asked the state government and the various departments in charge of the Sabarimala pilgrimage to submit a report on the Jan 14 night stampede. The reports filed by the police, forest and the Devaswom Board appeared to contradict each other.
The police report filed on behalf of Director General of Police Jacob Punnoose by IG of Police B. Sandhya said there were 297 officials from the police department in and around the Pulumedu area and the number of the pilgrims was very large.
The forest department said the cause of the stampede was a tiff between auto rickshaw and jeep drivers and there were 15 forest guards, 16 warders and 36 guards from the eco-development society in the area.
The Devaswom Board said there was a huge shortage of security personnel since the area belongs to the Periyar Tiger Reserve and they do not have the authority to take over the land at the time of the festival season.
The bench, which appeared displeased, asked how could more than 2,000 vehicles and two lakh pilgrims be allowed there.
The bench agreed that the Tiger Reserve should be protected and there should be no damage to the environment. It asked the centre and the Ayyapa Seva Sangh to come out with suggestions and asked the state government to file its report Friday and posted the case for next Monday. The tragedy occurred Jan 14 night in the Pulumedu forest area when thousands of pilgrims were returning after watching the Makara Jyothi light on the horizon, the most important event of the Sabarimala pilgrimage.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, commenting on the court’s ruling, said the celestial light was a question of faith and the state government was not interested in the issue.
“We are not going to bring in astrologers or even experts in this field from the scientific community to find out the truth on the light,” said Achuthanandan.
However, state Cooperation Minister G. Sudhakaran said he was aware that the light is a human-created phenomenon.
“The legend is that it is the adivasis, as part of their tradition, who do the lighting on the day and they are assisted by officials from the State Electricity Board, maybe even a police force is there. This I have been told in the past too but this is not the business of the state government,” said Sudhakaran, a former Devaswom minister.
The two-month-long Sabarimala season ended Thursday morning at the Sabarimala temple and the temple doors have been closed.
After a cabinet meeting in the state capital, Achuthanandan said that very soon a full fledged departmental meeting would be called to discuss the various issues needed to ensure a safe Sabarimala pilgrimage.

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