Family members of the 1997 Uphaar cinema tragedy victims today met Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal and requested him to recommend rejection of the plea filed by real estate baron Gopal Ansal for waiver of one-year jail term awarded to him in the case. The Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) handed over a representation to the L-G saying giving such mercy to “rich and powerful” people would send a wrong message to other wrongdoers in society. The association said that the Delhi government has already recommended rejection of the plea filed by Ansal. “We at AVUT request you not to consider the mercy plea filed by Gopal Ansal. Using discretionary powers to provide mercy for the rich and powerful is sure to send a wrong signal to other wrongdoers who will doubtless be emboldened by any mercy shown to Gopal Ansal,” AVUT, in its representation filed through its president Neelam Krishnamoorthy, said.
“We are relieved that Delhi government has recommended rejection of the mercy plea. We hope that you too will accept our request and recommend rejection of the same,” it said. AVUT has said that Gopal Ansal, through his counsel, has filed a plea before the president requesting clemency and waiver of the jail term awarded by the Supreme Court and it has been forwarded to the LG office by the home ministry for an opinion. The Supreme Court had on February 9 directed Gopal Ansal to serve a year’s jail term while his elder brother Sushil Ansal had got relief from incarceration with prison term already undergone by him in the two-decade-old case of Uphaar fire tragedy in which 59 people had died.
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The apex court, in a majority 2:1 verdict, had asked 67- year-old Gopal Ansal to surrender within four weeks to serve the remaining jail term of one year punishment. He was in jail earlier for around four-and-a-half months. The apex court had also upheld the fine of Rs 30 crore each imposed on both the convicts earlier and said it should be utilised for setting up a trauma centre. The 59 people had died of asphyxia when a fire broke out during the screening of Bollywood movie ‘Border’ in Uphaar theatre in Green Park area of South Delhi on June 13, 1997. Over 100 people were also injured in the subsequent stampede.