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Convicted Ansals, 10 others

12 people, including Ansal bothers, have been convicted in the 1997 Uphaar cinema fire tragedy case in which 59 people died, report Naziya Alvi and Karan Choudhury.

india Updated: Nov 21, 2007 03:33 IST

A local court on Tuesday held 12 people, including well-known builder brothers Sushil and Gopal Ansal, guilty in the 1997 Uphaar cinema fire tragedy case in which 59 people died.

The Ansal brothers, who own Uphaar Cinema, were convicted of causing death by negligence and violating other laws that attract a maximum two years in jail.

The Ansals’ counsel, Pandit R.K. Naseem, said they would challenge the conviction.

Additional Sessions Judge Mamta Sehgal also convicted three Delhi Vidyut Board employees and three then managers and a guard of the cinema hall for culpable homicide not amounting to murder, which attracts a maximum punishment of 10 years in jail.

The court also held two Municipal Corporation of Delhi employees and a Delhi Fire Service employee guilty of causing death by negligence. Out of the total 16 accused, four died during the decade-long trial.

Judge Sehgal, who folded her hands and said a prayer before reading out the verdict to a packed courtroom, would pronounce the punishment on Wednesday.

As the verdict was pronounced, Neelam Krishnamurthy, who heads the Association of the Victims of Uphaar Tragedy, broke down and kissed the pictures of her dead children.

Krishnamurthy, who lost her son and daughter in the tragedy, expressed disappointment over the verdict. “We will appeal against this in the Delhi High Court,” she said.

All 59 victims had died of asphyxia in south Delhi’s Uphaar cinema hall on June 13, 1997 when a fire broke out during the screening of a movie. Most deaths were caused as exit doors of the balcony were closed.