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Uphaar staffers did not help trapped victims: CBI

CBI says poor emergency response mechanism in the Uphaar cinema contributed to the death toll.

india Updated: Oct 05, 2006 21:54 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

CBIon Thursdaysaid poor emergency response mechanism in the Uphaar cinema and panic-stricken staffers contributed to the death toll nine years ago in the fire which claimed 59 lives.

In the on-going arguments, CBI counsel YK Saxena read out to Additional Sessions Judge Mamta Sehgal excerpts from eye-witness accounts on how the staff at Uphaar Cinema "chose not to help in the immediate evacuation of those trapped in the cinema hall".

Saxena quoted Sudheer Kumar, a security guard at the complex at the time, who testified in court how he joined the meagre number of people who tried to pull out those trapped in the theatre.

Kumar had told the court in evidence that unauthorised plywood partitions set up by the tenants inside the building had severely hampered passage when people from the balcony were rushed out to the open-air terrace, Saxena said.

He said it was Kumar who filed the first FIR in the case.

The counsel read out from the testimony of another witness, projector operator Madhukar Bhagde, who had tesitified in court that the Public Address system was not functional on the day of the tragedy.

CBI also submitted before the court that nine tenants, including a bank, at Uphaar complex were drawing power from the very same DVB transformer which caused the blaze on the evening of June 13, 1997.

The 12 accused, including theatre owners Sushil and Gopal Ansal have been variously charged with offences like sections 304 A (causing death by negligence), 33 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and relevant provisions of the Cinematograph Act, 1952.

First Published: Oct 05, 2006 21:54 IST