Kochi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Kollam visit to take stock of the temple firework tragedy was a ‘big relief’ for the people of Kerala, chief minister Oommen Chandy said in Kochi on Friday.
The chief minister’s remarks came after state director general of police (DGP) T.P. Senkumar allegedly said that he had objected to the visits of Modi and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi to Kollam, hours after the deadly explosion at the Puttingal Devi temple last Sunday.
“Apart from the Prime Minister, national leaders, including Rahul Gandhi and Communist Party of India-Marxist ( CPI-M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury...they all came. That was a big relief for people of Kerala.
“This was a big disaster and at that hour, their presence and their advice and help were a great thing for Kerala," Chandy told reporters when asked about the top cop’s comment about VVIP visits to the site on the very day of the temple tragedy.
Senkumar reportedly said he objected to the idea of the Prime Minister visiting the area within 12 hours of the tragedy as the entire police force was busy in rescue and relief operations and the visits by Modi and Rahul meant that they had to ensure their ‘safety and security’ as well.
Home minister Ramesh Chennithala sought to downplay Senkumar’s comments about VVIP visit. “There is no need to give a twist to his statement. He was talking only about the security aspect," he said.
Hours after the tragedy, Modi had visited the temple premises and taken stock of the situation arising out of the mishap. Chandy and Chennithala had taken the Prime Minister around the temple precincts and briefed him on the incident.
Later, Modi had visited the injured people in various hospitals in Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram.
Rahul Gandhi also visited the temple site and hospitals the same day. The 10 April tragedy which occurred during an unauthorised display of fireworks at the 100-year-old temple, had killed 108 persons and injured more than 300, who are still undergoing treatment at hospitals in Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam.