Uphaar fire victims start campaign for safety at public places

January 17th, 2009 - 10:11 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 17 (IANS) Victims of the Uphaar tragedy along with various civil society groups here Saturday launched a citizen’s campaign to spread awareness about safety at public places and ensure effective implementation of safety laws and regulations.Association of Victims of the Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) also launched an online petition rememberuphaar.com. The petition will later be sent to the president of India.

The campaign began here with lighting of candles at the Smriti Upvan, in front of the Uphaar Cinema, Green Park Extension.

The fire in the south Delhi cinema hall June 13, 1997 claimed 59 lives.

“I have been a victim of a system and the system does not let me go beyond 304-A. That is how our legal system works.” Neelam Krishnamurthy convenor AVUT told IANS. The Indian Penal Code’s Section 304-A covers the matter of causing deaht by negligence.

“We at AVUT strongly believe that the outcome of the recently delivered judgement in the Uphaar fire tragedy case will impact public safety. We hope that in future public spaces in the country will become safer,” said Krishnamurthy, who lost her two children in the Uphaar fire.

Owners of the cinema hall, brother Sushil and Gopal Ansal, were initially jailed for two years after being convicted of a negligence charge. Last month, the Delhi High Court reduced their jail term to one year.

“We have suffered long enough and do not wanted other people to suffer,” Krishnamurthy said.

Krishnamurthy said AVUT has now joined hands with other civic organisations and will start a campaign for citizens’ safety at public places.

The initiative will aim to mobilise public opinion to build pressure on the government to create an act for safety in public places and a national public safety commission like that in countries such as Canada, Britain, Japan and South Korea.

“It is with utmost pain that we have come to realise that for our policy makers and decision makers, human life is of little value. Someone accused of killing a Chinkara (deer) is sentence to five years in prison but those accused of having caused the death of 59 innocent people have got away with a mere one year in jail - a pitiful six days in jail for each of the lives lost,” Krishnamurthy said.

Krishnamurthy also appealed to the citizens to be alert and careful.

Sultan Singh, a lawyer associated with AVUT, said: “Stringent laws are needed.”

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