The Association of Victims of the Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) has been fighting to get justice for their loved ones who were killed on June 13th, 1997 at Uphaar Cinema, New Delhi in one of the worst manmade tragedies.
AVUT invested its faith in the Criminal Justice System and took up an arduous and agonizing fight for justice in the hope that it would get justice for those who were killed in the tragedy. But the final verdict of the Supreme Court we believe is certain to go down in the history as a travesty of justice. AVUT’s endeavour for past 21 years has been not only to get justice for our loved ones, but also to ensure implementation of safety laws in public spaces so that no precious human lives are lost.
In the last two decades the nation has witnessed many fire tragedies, the most recent being Kamala Mills Fire, Mumbai. Apart from the number of casualties being different, there is one common thread that runs through each of them is that all of them were man-made. Under our prevalent system, such offenders are booked under section 304-A of the Indian Penal Code which translates into causing death due to rash and negligent act. In this grim scenario, incidents of such catastrophic magnitude are bound to recur since there is no legal deterrence that can instill fear in the minds of possible wrongdoers
In the Uphaar Fire Tragedy Case Sushil Ansal who had merely under gone 5 months in jail, was allowed to walk free by the Apex Court because of his old age – a pitiful 2 ½ days in jail for each of the lives lost.
Years later, we have again been reminded of the insensitivity of our times. Someone accused of killing a Blackbuck is sentenced to five years in prison.”Yeh Kaisa Insaaf Hai”?
It is with utmost pain that we have come to realize that for our policy makers and decision makers, human life is of little value. The owners /occupiers are doing little to be fire compliant and the Government agencies are compromised.
We have spent the last twenty one years suffering pain, emptiness & desperation, hoping that this verdict would bring peace to the departed souls of our loved ones. We heard it said innumerable times that justice should not only be done, but must also be seen to be done. But unfortunately justice has been denied to the Uphaar victims