For 15 long years the Association of Victims of the Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) has been fighting to get justice for their loved ones who were killed on the 13th June 1997 in one of the worst man made tragedies at Uphaar Cinema,New Delhi .
AVUT invested its faith in the Criminal Judicial System and took up an arduous and agonizing fight for justice in the hope that it would get speedy justice for those who killed in the tragedy. The verdict of the High Court to reduce the sentence smacks of tokenism and has further traumatized and victimized us when we realize that the people responsible for the tragedy have been let off with a mere one year sentence. But even after one and half decades the case has not reached any logical conclusion.
AVUT’s endeavor is to ensure that people who are responsible for such man made tragedies be duly penalized in a manner that acts as a deterrent for future man made tragedies. The nation has witnessed many man made tragedies in the last one and half decades including the recentAMRIHospitalfire in Kolkata, where 90 precious human lives were lost. It is with utmost pain, that the members of AVUT have come to realize that forIndia’s policy makers and decision makers, human life is very cheap.
In this grim scenario, incidents of such catastrophic magnitude are bound to recur since there is no legal deterrent that can instill fear in the minds of those who willfully or casually inflict harm. The need of the hour is to have appropriate legislation to tackle such man made tragedies and put in place appropriate judicial mechanisms that force offenders to think twice before indulging in acts of omission and commission that can endanger human life
AVUT, in July 2009 presented a Petition to the Hon’ble President of India, Smt. Sonia Gandhi and Hon’ble Minister for Law & Justice proposing a legislation for prevention of man made tragedies in Public Places. Despite prompt action by the then Law Minister and an assurance that the Law Commission will work towards a legislation, nothing concrete has happened in the three years that have passed since.
In the recent judgement pronounced by the Hon’ble Supreme Court dated 13.10.2011 in the Uphaar Fire Tragedy case Ld. Judges have reiterated the need for laws to deal with such mass tragedies. In Para24 the Ld Judge has observed that “despite the concern shown by this court, it is unfortunate that no legislation has been enacted to deal with such situations. We hope and trust that utmost attention would be given by the legislature for bringing in appropriate legislation to deal with claims in public law for violation of fundamental rights, guaranteed to the citizens at the hands of the state and its officials”.
Public memory is distressingly short people have forgotten and moved on but the family members of the departed gather on 13th June every year to pray for the peace of the departed souls. However, there can be no peace without justice. It is this truth, however ugly, but told with unflinching honesty, that can heal their unassuaged agony. And for justice to be delivered to the unfortunate victims of the Uphaar tragedy, the leaders, the courts and the people of this nation need to stand tall on the side of justice.
Members of AVUT once again appeal to the country’s policy makers to implement stringent laws to deter and avert such man made tragedies so that in future, precious human lives are not lost.