SC verdict on Uphaar disappointing: Victims’ group convener

New Delhi, Aug 19 (IANS) Terming as “very disappointing” the Supreme Court’s Wednesday verdict of no jail for the Ansal brothers in the 1997 Uphaar fire case, the association of victims in the tragedy said the ruling “will send a wrong message to the world”.

“The verdict has been very disappointing. I did not expect this. The victims of Uphaar have been further victimised today and have not been given justice by the Supreme Court,” Neelam Krishnamurthy, convener of the Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) who lost both her children in the fire that engulfed the theatre, told IANS.

Representing the victims and the families of those killed in the fire of June 13, 1997, Krishnamurthy said the apex court did not give them enough time to argue.

“The law of the land is different for people with money and for ordinary citizens. I spent 17 years with my daughter and 13 years with my son but I have spent 18 years trying to get justice which has been denied today.

“This will send a wrong message to the entire world. This judgment will be talked about in the world and I will make sure about it,” she said.

In a breather to real estate giants Ansal brothers Sushil and Gopal, accused in the case, the Supreme Court fined them Rs.30 crore each, refusing to send them to jail.

The court said the Ansals would deposit the fine in three months and this amount would be utilised by the Delhi government.

However, Krishnamurthy said the fine being deposited with the government will encourage bribery.

“This fine will go to the government and these are the governments which joined hands with the Ansals and gave them NOCs (no-objection certificates). You are encouraging bribery,” she said.

The Ansal brothers owned the Uphaar cinema in south Delhi’s Green Park area where 59 people died due to asphyxiation after a fire broke out in the transformer room, emitting toxic gases.

The deaths occurred as people could not escape as the exit doors were closed. There was only one operational exit door.

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