New Delhi: In the past decade, India has seen at least nine major fire tragedies and loss of lives and property. However, not a single individual so far has been held accountable.
Even in the much talked about Uphaar Cinema fire tragedy, the victims' families fought for 14 years only to see the accused walk free after paying compensation.
In December 2011, a fire broke out at the AMRI Hospital in Kolkata in which 93 people died and hundreds were injured. However, 14 months later, the trial of the case has still not begun and the directors of the hospital are out on bail.
A fire incident at Carlton Towers in Bangalore on February 23, 2010 left nine people dead and 60 others injured. The chief minister ordered an inquiry into the incident and compensations were announced but the victims are still struggling to get justice.
Similarly, on July 16, 2004, 94 school children were killed in a fire accident at Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu but the trial of the case started only in September 2012. "If knowledge is there, it is culpable homicide but are we willing to punish (anyone) for culpable homicide? We are a soft state and the consequences of not punishing is invitation to more fire accidents," lashed out senior advocate KTS Tulsi.
Many tragedies like the Victoria Park fire in Meerut in 2006, the Dabwali fire in Haryana in 1995 and even the Venus Circus fire tragedy in Bangalore back in 1981 happened at temporary shelters like tents that are highly inflammable. "Why can't we just stop the use of inflammable material?" Tulsi asked.
Every incident and the justice that follows sets a precedent for others. Most of these fire tragedies are incidents that could have been avoided by following simple guidelines.