Russia fire victims' parents seek answers

A year after their daughters were killed in a blaze at a Russian university hostel, institute has not bothered to even return the girls’ belongings

Karishma Bhosale and Pooja Kallur died in a fire in a hostel in Russia
Karishma Bhosale and Pooja Kallur died in a fire in a hostel in Russia

A year has passed since Mumbai girl Pooja Kallur and Pune’s Karishma Bhosale perished in a fire in their university hostel in Russia, but their families still have not got any answers or closure. To this day, the families have not received either the post-mortem report or any update on the ongoing court trial in Moscow.

Also read - Russia hostel fire: Grieving Bhosale family wants to sue university for negligence

Karishma Bhosale’s family is yet to get closure after her death. Pic/Mandar Tannu
Karishma Bhosale’s family is yet to get closure after her death. Pic/Mandar Tannu

mid-day had reported how the Karishma (22) and Pooja (21) were killed in the tragic blaze that broke out next door to their dorm room in the hostel of Smolensk State Medical Academy University (SSMU). Of 200 students, Karishma and Pooja were the only ones who didn’t make it out. Their families believe the girls died because of the university’s negligence.

Also read: Russia hostel fire caused by short circuit from room heater

The Moscow police charged four people – two university staffers and two gatekeepers or guards. According to the Embassy of India in Moscow, the guards had allegedly disabled the fire alarm system after the smoke detector went off in the room where the fire started. The main cause of the accident was determined to be faulty electrical wiring.

Families sceptical
Karishma’s father, Uday told mid-day, “It has been a year and the university has still not made any communication with us. They have not even given us the clothes, books, gold ornaments belonging to my daughter. I don’t understand how staffers can be held responsible when the university did not bother with fire safety measures. They are merely scapegoats.”

Also read - Fire at hostel in Russia: Families of Indian girls blame college for negligence

“Our government had promised us compensation to cover the R18 lakh loan I had taken for my daughter’s course - this turned out to be an empty promise too,” added Uday.

Pooja’s father, Siddappa was forced to get out of retirement and resume work to cover expenses.

Also read: 2 Indian girls killed in Russian medical academy fire

“This year, she would have returned with her MBBS degree and started working. The university had already witnessed similar fires twice before my daughter’s death, but the institute did not take any precautions. We were told that by August 2016, the verdict would be out, but the trial is still on,” he added.

Indian Embassy says
On Feb 3, the Indian embassy in Moscow wrote to the family: “Embassy is regularly updating the family members. The Russian communication further states that the rights of the aggrieved party for moral compensation may be implemented by starting a legal claim in compliance with the Russian Federation Penal Code, Article 44.”

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