Relatives of Uphaar victims visit ground zero with a prayer

June 13th, 2010 - 6:38 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 13 (IANS) Thirteen years on, relatives of the 59 victims who died in the devastating fire in Uphaar theatre in the capital, paid homage with a simple prayer ceremony in the shadow of the cinema hall.
On June 13, 1997, the city’s worst fire tragedy led to the death of 59 people, mainly due to lack of proper firefighting facilities and closed exit doors.

In front of the cinema hall which has remained closed after the tragedy, a small remembrance garden with a water feature, with the names of the victims inscribed on it, had been constructed by the relatives.

On every anniversary, they gather to relive their pain and resolve to fight the case — as they did again Sunday.

In December 2008, Delhi High Court sentenced the owners, Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal to one-year prison term. The Ansal brothers were out on bail within a month.

The Association of Victims of the Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) have filed an appeal in the Supreme Court which will come up for hearing in August.

“We are disappointed with the judgment of the Delhi High Court where the accused were merely sentenced to one year for death of 59 innocent children, women and men. This is nothing but travesty of justice,” said Neelam Krishnamurthy, AVUT president.

She said that there is a need for more stringent laws to tighten the noose around the high and mighty who escape easily after committing serious crimes.

Recalling the Bhopal gas tragedy, she said there is no worth attached to the life of the common man. “Thousands of people lost their lives and still many are suffering from different diseases but the law favours the influential. Instead our system should work towards nailing the accused persons whose negligent act was responsible for such a big tragedy,” Krishnamurthy said.

She also advocated establishment of fast track courts for cases like Bhopal gas tragedy and Uphaar tragedy so that people get justice within a limited time period.

“Exemplary and punitive damages should be imposed upon the accused persons so that they think a thousand times before indulging in any criminal act,” she added.

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