The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a petition filed by Gopal Ansal, convict in the Uphaar cinema fire case, seeking more time to surrender. He will have to surrender on Thursday, reported ANI. Gopal Ansal and his brother Sushil owned the Uphaar cinema in south Delhi, where 55 movie-goers died after the place caught fire in 1997.
The court had earlier turned down another plea by Ansal seeking stay on his arrest till the hearing of his review appeals. The Association for Victims of Uphaar Tragedy, a party in the case, had objected to Ansal’s plea. Senior advocate KTS Tulsi, representing the association, had said that “there cannot be a review of the review judgement”, reported The Times of India.
On February 9, the apex court had sentenced Gopal Ansal to jail for one year in connection with the case. He was asked to surrender within four weeks. He has already spent four months in jail. The court had spared Sushil Ansal, 77, because of his age.
Neelam Krishnamurthy, who lost her son and daughter to the fire, had said that 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 had 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.