The Supreme Court on Thursday sent one of the Ansal brothers, owners of Uphaar cinema, to jail for one year in connection with the fire in 1997 that killed 55 movie-goers in south Delhi. The court asked Gopal Ansal, 69, to surrender within four weeks. He has already spent four months in jail. The court spared Sushil Ansal, 77, because of his age.
The court was hearing the petitions filed by the Association of the Victims of Uphaar Tragedy and the Central Bureau of Investigation against a 2015 verdict that had said that the Ansals would not be imprisoned because of their age and the jail term they have already served. The court had said that though there was evidence to send them behind bars for two years, their age was grounds for not imprisoning them. The accused were fined Rs 30 crore each, reported The Indian Express.
Neelam Krishnamurthy, who lost her son and daughter to the fire, said the verdict was a big disappointment. “The SC judgment shows the rich have special rights, and can walk away after killing children by paying for a trauma centre,” she said. “We don’t give a damn about the trauma centre. I should have shot these people the day my children died.”
The fire broke out during an afternoon screening of Bollywood film Border. Most of the victims died of suffocation. Several others were injured in the stampede that ensued. The cinema hall authorities had blocked the exit doors to add more seats, which left the people trapped inside.