Early release of three Uphaar tragedy convicts criticised


New Delhi : The early release of three persons convicted in the Uphaar fire tragedy case has been criticised by the association of the victims’ kin.

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The three accused got just two years of punishment and that too was cut short by nearly six months courtesy our system, said Neelam Krishnamurthy, the convenor of the Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT).

Krishnamurthy had filed a Right to Information (RTI) application with the Tihar jail for information about the status of convicts of Uphaar case who are lodged in the jail. She found the two convicted Delhi Vidyut Board (DVB) officials – Brij Mohan and Bir Singh – got remission of six months and six days and five months and thirteen days respectively.

The cinema hall’s gatekeeper Manmohan Uniyal also got remission of six months and 10 days.

“It is a travesty of justice. In US, fashion designer Anand John, who raped seven girls, was imprisoned for 59 years. Here in India, 59 people died, and if we calculate, it comes to nine days imprisonment for each accused for every one person who died in the tragedy. Is it worth it?” Krishnamurthy asked.

The five other accused – the cinema’s managers Radhakrishan Sharma and N.S. Chopra, DVB official A.K. Ghera, and Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) officials S.S. Sharma and N.D. Tiwari – were acquitted by the Delhi High Court.

The high court had earlier this year reduced the jail terms of Brij Mohan, Bir Singh and Uniyal from seven years to two years.

On June 13, 1997, a fire broke out during screening of a Hindi film in Uphaar cinema hall, killing 59 people, including women and children. Besides Bir Singh, Brij Mohan and Uniyal, the two Ansal brothers, who owned the cinema theatre, were convicted in the case.