In the wake of the Chamarajnagar temple poisoning that's claimed 14 lives, the Karnataka government on Monday ordered all temples in the state to take prior permission before serving prasadam to devotees. All temple bodies have also been directed to install CCTV cameras in their kitchens, as part of the same order.
The order comes two days after the Kicchu Maramma Temple tragedy in Chamarajanagar, where more than a hundred devotees fell sick, and 14 have died, after consuming poisoned prasadam on Friday afternoon.
In the order passed by the Muzrai Department on Monday, from now on, the local health officers will inspect prasadam before it is served to devotees. "Bringing in all private temples under the Muzrai Department is not feasible because there will be shortage of funds. So we have to bring in guidelines to avoid such incidents," an official with the Muzrai Department told TNM.
“Names of all people who enter the temple's kitchen and those who prepare the prasadam must be noted,” he added.
Speaking with TNM, the Chamarajanagar District Collector had earlier said that in order to prevent such tragedies, she had sent a letter to the Muzrai Department stating that the government must take over the management of the temple.
A similar demand has been made by Hanur MLA R Narendram who told reporters that he will take the issue up with the state government.
Meanwhile, R Dhruvanarayana, Lok Sabha MP from Chamarajanagar spoke in the Parliament on Monday over the issue and sought the Prime Minister’s assistance. He asked the government to declare the incident as a national tragedy.
A forensic report concluded that insecticide was used in the food served to the devotees, police said. According to IGP (Southern Range) Sharath Chandra, monocrotophos, a kind of organophosphate, was found in the food sample submitted to the Forensic Science Lab and the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI). Monocrotophos are a potent poison that can cause damage even through contact with the skin. Once ingested, it can damage the nerve fibres of neuromuscular junctions.
Seven persons have been arrested in connection with the case so far. Police suspect that the poisoning was the result of a dispute between authorities who manage the temple. One party had likely aimed to scare off the other faction, police suspect.
The accused have been booked under section 304 (culpable homicide amounting to murder) and common intention (34) of the Indian Penal Code.
The district lawyers' collective at the Chamarajanagar district has decided none of its members will defend the accused in the case.