‘Black day’: Families of 1997 Uphaar fire victims after SC rejects plea to enhance Ansal brothers’ jail term

As the Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a curative petition demanding the extension of jail term for Ansal brothers in the 1997 Uphaar cinema fire tragedy, the families of those who died in the blaze said that this was a “black day” for them.

Neelam Krishnamoorthy, who founded the Association of Victims of the Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) and has been the face of their long fight for justice and had filed the curative petition, said that she was “shattered”.

“As parents seeking justice for the killing of their children, we can now say with certainty that, in India, justice is a luxury accessible only to the rich and powerful,” she said after the judgement.

Krishnamoorthy had lost her 17-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son in the July 13, 1997 blaze.

She added, “We waited quarter century but justice was denied to the Uphaar victims.”

The fire that broke out in the south Delhi cinema hall during the screening of the Sunny Deol-starrer ‘Border’ on its release on 13 June 1997, had claimed 59 lives, out of which 23 were children. In 2015, Supreme Court had let off Ansal brothers with a fine of Rs 30 crore each.

Krishnamoorthy also said that while the court was quick to act on the death of a child at the protest site at Shaheen Bagh (protesters have been demonstrating against the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens), the youngest victim of the Uphaar fire was a month old infant.

“Twenty three children died in the fire that day and the youngest was one month old. Is there no value for their lives?” she asked.

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