Known as one of the worst fires disasters in the history of our country, the Uphaar cinema tragedy had shaken up the families of the victims who had lost their lives in the incident.
It’s been nearly 20 years and entrepreneurs; Sushil and Gopal Ansal have not been jailed for the fire that broke out at their facility, the Uphaar Cinema. The incident occurred on Friday, June 13, 1997, in Green Park Delhi during the screening of the movie ‘Border’.
59 fatal deaths had occurred due to asphyxiation (being deprived of oxygen that can lead to either unconsciousness or death; Suffocation) and a further 103 people suffered severe injuries due to a stampede. The victims and the families of the deceased later formed The Association of Victims of Uphaar Fire Tragedy (AVUT), which filed the landmark civil compensation case.
The Present Situation
What angers people the most is that the Supreme Court had dismissed entirely the curative plea filed by the families who have been affected by the tragic losses of their loved ones. The AVUT believe that they have not been given a proper closure or justice for that matter.
The Supreme Court on October 13, 2011, reduced the amount of compensation to be paid to the victims of 1997 Uphaar Cinema fire tragedy. The compensation to the family of deceased above 20 years cut from Rs 18 lakh to Rs 10 lakh each; for those below 20 years, from Rs 15 lakh to Rs 7.5 lakh.
Everything was compensated with money, but how can money ever replace a precious life?
After the fine imposed on the Ansal brothers and also had dismissed their jail sentence due to old-age concerns, the AVUT was furious.
Furthermore, the Supreme Court had admitted that the fact that there was no Trauma centre at the nearby AIIMS hospital, had contributed to the increase in the death toll. Such an outrageous statement was dismissed by the AVUT, causing them to plea again for the right form of justice and importance that should be given to them.
The 1997 incident was not the first of its kind; it has been recorded earlier that in 1989 a fire had broken out at the same Uphaar cinema. Before that, another fire in 1983 had caused the suspension of many licenses in New Delhi – including the Uphaar Cinema.
An inspection had brought to light around ten safety concerns and violations, but they remained that way till the fire 14 years later in 1997.
“For ordinary citizens, there is no justice. We showed faith and this was a mistake. It’s only for the rich. You should organise public outrage or mount a media campaign to get justice, otherwise, there’s no justice for you,” said Neelam Krishnamoorthy, who lost her two children in the fire.
Do you think there is such a thing as justice? If it exists why it is not the same for the rich, the poor and the ordinary? All lives matter and justice are to be served equally.