Their pain reawakened by the recent victim-unfriendly verdict in the Bhopal gas tragedy, the kin of 59 people who died in the fire at Uphaar Cinema in south Delhi called for a tough law to prevent man-made tragedies and ensure those responsible for it do not get away lightly.
The sentiments were expressed at a prayer meeting held on Sunday, the 13th anniversary of the fire tragedy at Shanti Upavan memorial in front of the Yusuf Sarai cinema hall, by the Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT). It was during the first day matinee show of the Hindi movie, Border, on June 13, 1997 that a fire, which spread from a faulty transformer, snuffed out 59 lives.
After an excruciating 12-year fight for justice, the family of the dead were shattered by the verdict: even after cinema owners Sushil and Gopal Ansal were slammed by Delhi High Court on December 19, 2009 for not ensuring the safety of cine-goers and
Tale of two cities
Punishment: Hall owners Ansal brothers get one year each
Status: Now on bail. Appeal by state pending in Supreme Court
Bhopal Gas Tragedy
Deaths: More than 15,000
Punishment: 8 Union Carbide officials get two-year jail
Status: Released on bail
Justice has been late in the coming and shamefully stingy in the Bhopal gas tragedy case too, as those booked for causing the world's worst industrial disaster, which left over 15,000 people dead, were handed a two-year-jail term on June 7, 2010 and walked out on bail hours later.
The weak, law ensured the officials of Union carbide, like the Ansals, were tried under a lenient 'causing death due to a negligent act' under Section 304 A of the IPC.
“Such incidents of catastrophic magnitude are bound to recur since there is no legal deterrent to instill fear in the minds of those who willfully or casually inflict harm.,” said Neelam Krishnamoorthy, President of AVUT.
“The recent fires at Bangalore and Kolkata also proved over and over again that for our policy makers and decision makers, human life is of little value.”
“Only the death toll differs, but a common thread that runs through each of the tragedies that have rocked the nation in the last quarter of a century is that all of them have been man-made and that precious human lives have been lost. The offenders in such crimes are often booked for causing death due to rash and negligent acts, which is a bailable offence.”