'Kamala Mills Fire wouldn't have happened had BMC taken lessons from City Kinara blaze'
Rekha Thapar, mother of Akash, who died in 2015 City Kinara fire, says Kamala Mills incident is nothing but a case of negligence and corruption
Rekha and her bedridden husband Pradeep hold up a picture of their son Akash in their Sion Koliwada home. Pic/Suresh KK
For Rekha Thapar, 51, Friday's fire at Kamala Mills brought back memories of another unfortunate blaze, the one at the City Kinara restaurant in 2015, which took her son Akash away. Incidentally, it was Akash's birthday yesterday. What the incident also brought back was another reminder of the negligence displayed by authorities, which was behind both tragedies. According to Rekha, this fire could have been avoided had they taken lessons from the Kinara incident.
Like a flashback
"Akash would have been 21 years old today," said a teary-eyed Rekha, who lives with her bedridden husband and older daughter at their home in Sion Koliwada. "When I woke up and received news of the fire that broke out in Kamala Mills, it felt like I had gone back in time to Rajawadi hospital, where I was told about the death of my son. It was like a flashback — all of it felt like it had happened before: the negligence, the deaths, the nature of the accident." "All that was going through my head was that now other parents too would be crying and suffering like I was, and still am. Had the government and BMC officials taken concrete action two years ago, when the Kinara tragedy happened, then, maybe, this fire would not have broken out," said Rekha.
Where's the justice?
"All they did was suspend a few BMC officials, just like what happened in this case. But how is getting suspended a strong enough punishment for the lives that they have cost? They will still receive 75 per cent of their salary, even if they are under suspension; so where is the justice exactly? I have been lying at home all day, crying in memory of my son," she added. "Now, whenever such tragic incidents occur, all the authorities do is play out their compensation card. But is R1 lakh the cost of my son's life? The Kamala Mills fire is once again nothing but a case of negligence and corruption, with us at the receiving end of it. The punishment should be much more severe for these officials who give restaurants licences without properly checking them. As for those who have lost their near and dear ones, I ask them to be strong," said Rekha.
She wished to visit the families of the Kamala Mills victims but couldn't do so. "I wanted to be there for them in this time of need. I didn't go because my husband is bedridden at home, and he said that by now the post-mortem of all bodies would be over."
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