Sixteen years after the tragic Uphaar cinema fire here, the kin of the 59 killed on that faithful day said they “feel cheated” with several offshoots of their legal battle still pending in various courts.
Neelam Krishnamoorthy, who lost both her children in the fire that engulfed the theatre, has been fighting the litigations for the past 16 years with the sole motive of taking it to a logical conclusion.
She said: “I never thought it would take whole my life. Even after 16 years the case has not reached any logical conclusion. We are disappointed. I feel let down by the system.”
Krishnamoorthy, who is also the president of the Association of the Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT), told agencies that their cause has always been subject to the government’s apathy. She says that it was “frustrating” that the judiciary was taking more than 16 years to conclude the cases.
“We are the victims. We lost our children and relatives in the fire. We feel disillusioned and dejected. After 16 years, we haven’t got any justice,” she said.
“They (Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal, who owned the theatre) took away the lives of innocent people who went to watch a movie. A trial court sentenced them to just two years in jail for killing so many people. The high court reduced the sentence to one year. It is very frustrating,” Krishnamoorthy said.
After a lengthy trial, the Ansal brothers were found guilty of “causing death by negligent” act. A Delhi trial court awarded them two years’ rigorous imprisonment in November 2007. In December 2008, the Delhi High Court reduced the duo’s sentences from two years to one year.
The Supreme Court granted them bail Jan 30, 2009.
An appeal challenging the one-year sentence is pending in the Supreme Court in which the court had reserved its verdict April 17, 2013.
Fifty-nine people were killed and over 100 injured in the subsequent stampede when a fire ravaged Uphaar cinema in south Delhi June 13, 1997. The people had gone to watch ‘Border’, a Hindi film starring Sunny Deol, Sunil Shetty, Akshaye Khanna and Pooja Bhatt.