The parents of two of the 59 victims of the Uphaar Cinema fire have come out with a book about the trauma and their long fight for justice.
“Trial by Fire” is the story of how the system failed them one step at a time and how, despite the odds, they still refuse to back down, according to publishers Penguin Random House India.
Neelam and Shekhar Krishnamoorthy, who lost their children Unnati (17) and Ujjwal (13) on June 13, 1997, decided to fight for justice to bring those who were responsible for the tragedy to book.
Their fight, which began 19 years ago, continues till date.
On that fateful day, a swirling mass of thick smoke entered the balcony section of the well-known cinema hall Uphaar located in posh south Delhi at 4.55 p.m. during the screening of the popular movie “Border”. With most exits unavailable and no ushers to help, the people seated in the balcony found themselves trapped.
By 7 p.m., 57 people had died and 103 were seriously injured in the ensuing stampede. Two more persons died later in the hospital.
Real estate barons Sushil and Gopal Ansal in August escaped being jailed in connection with the tragedy with the Supreme Court asking them to pay a fine of Rs 30 crore each and restricting their jail term to the period already undergone by them.
The apex court had overturned the pleas of CBI and the victims’ association. While Sushil had spent over five months in prison, Gopal was in jail for over four months immediately after the tragedy.
Earlier, the Supreme Court in 2014 had held the Ansals guilty but differed on the quantum of sentence to be awarded to them.
It had concurred in holding that there was “contemptuous disregard” of civic laws on part of the Ansals that led to the tragedy as they were “more interested in making money than ensuring safety of people”.
The Delhi High Court in 2008 had awarded one-year jail term to both Sushil and Gopal.