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Thank God, it didn?t happen

WHAT YOU see in the photograph accompanying this report is the flame that gave the jitters to more than 500 people that had gathered at Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University on Friday morning. It would have been an oven, quite like during the very recent Meerut tragedy at a fair! Sample this: The programme was a seminar on the birth anniversary of Dr Ambedkar. The ?fire-friendly? set-up included massive sheets of synthetic cloth draped on the walls of the auditorium, synthetic covering for the dias and even synthetic coverings for all the chairs!

india Updated: Apr 16, 2006 00:16 IST

WHAT YOU see in the photograph accompanying this report is the flame that gave the jitters to more than 500 people that had gathered at Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University on Friday morning. It would have been an oven, quite like during the very recent Meerut tragedy at a fair! Sample this: The programme was a seminar on the birth anniversary of Dr Ambedkar. The ‘fire-friendly’ set-up included massive sheets of synthetic cloth draped on the walls of the auditorium, synthetic covering for the dias and even synthetic coverings for all the chairs!

Just before the seminar began, the chief guests lit the huge ceremonial lamp with several wicks. The lamp lit well, in fact too well. So much so that when the flames started leaping high, one of the officials of the university, in the hall, waved frantically for the lamp to be taken away. The smoke had already loomed over the stage and the flames were but almost licking the synthetic cloth draped on the wall nearby. Everyone watched in horror as, for a second, the flame and synthetic cloth curled towards each other, thanks to the strong air flow from the coolers. Everyone leapt to their feet and shouted in unison. It was sheer good fortune that the flame and the cloth failed to make contact. A boy rushed up to the stage and lifted the lamp and despite the flame making him reel back, he managed to take the lamp to the lawn outside, saving the more than 500 people in the hall. Needles to add, there was single door that was being used both for entry and exit to the hall.

First Published: Apr 16, 2006 00:16 IST