Uphaar cinema tragedy: Families of victims meet to pay homage to kin

Family members of victims of Uphaar tragedy took part in special prayers on the 19th anniversary of the incident, in New Delhi on Monday.

Uphaar cinema tragedyA relative looking at the photographs of Uphaar fire tragedy victims near the cinema hall on the occasion of 19th anniversary of the tragedy. Pic/PTI

The Uphaar Cinema fire is one of the worst fire tragedies in recent India. It occurred on Friday, 13 June 1997 at Uphaar Cinema, in Green Park, Delhi, during the 3-to-6 pm screening of the movie Border.

Uphaar cinema tragedyA relative is teary eyed after seeing his kin. Pic/PTI

Trapped inside, 59 people died, mostly due to suffocation, and 103 were seriously injured in the resulting stampede.

Uphaar cinema tragedyFamily members of victims of Uphaar tragedy paying tribute at a memorial on the 19th anniversary of the incident. Pic/PTI

Every year this day, family of the victims meet to pay homage to their kin. A havan (a fire ritual) is also performed for the victims and their families - including the second and third generations.

Nineteen years have passed since a tragic fire in Uphaar Cinema in South Delhi engulfed 59 people but families of the victims said they are still awaiting justice.

Uphaar cinema tragedyFamily members of victims of Uphaar tragedy take part in special prayers. Pic/PTI

"We have been waiting for some sort of closure for 19 years but still far away from justice," said Neelam Krishnamoorthy, President of President Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT).

A trial court had sentenced the Uphaar owners -- the Ansal brothers -- to two-year rigorous imprisonment, in 2007. However, an year later the Delhi High Court reduced the sentence to one year.

Uphaar cinema tragedyA man paying tribute to Uphaar tragedy victims on the 19th anniversary of the incident. Pic/PTI

The Supreme Court upheld their conviction in the case in 2015 but considering their age and the period already spent by them in prison, it decided not to send them back to jail and rather asked the duo to pay a fine of Rs 30 crore each in lieu of a jail term.

"We were taken aback by the Supreme Court's judgement with theatre owners Sushil and Gopal Ansal being let off the hook with a fine of Rs 60 crore and now we are waiting for hearing of our review petition," Krishnamoorthy said.

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