New Delhi: Family members of victims of Uphaar fire tragedy today held a prayer meet in the memory of 59 persons who died in the theatre 17 years ago and demanded enacting of a strong law to ensure punishment commensurate with the gravity of such man-made disasters.
They gathered at Smriti Upavan in Green Park Extension, opposite the site of Uphaar hall here and performed a `havan` in memory of those killed in the fore on June 13, 1997.
"We appeal to the Government of India to bring in a new legislation to deal with man-made disasters pending for past five years," said Neelam Krishnamoorthy, president of Association of Victims of the Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT).
Krishnamoorthy lost her two children in the tragedy.
The Delhi High Court had on December 19, 2009, sentenced the owners of Uphaar Cinema -- Sushil and Gopal Ansal and former Delhi Fire Service staff H S Panwar to one year jail term.
Three others -- gate keeper Manmohan Unniyal, Delhi Vidyut Board employees Brij Mohan Satija and Bir Singh -- were awarded two-year jail term.
The case had come to the Supreme Court which on March 5 held Ansals guilty for the fire tragedy, saying they were more interested about making money than ensuring safety of the cine-goers.
Though they were held guilty, the apex court judges had differed over the quantum of punishment and the matter was referred to a larger bench for deciding the sentence.
Krishnamoorthy hoped that the larger bench would consider the "enormity" of the tragedy before deciding on the quantum of sentence.
"Punishment should always be proportionate to the gravity of the offence, and economic or social status of the accused or long pendency of the criminal trial cannot be construed as a factor for reducing the sentence," she said.
59 cine-goers had died of asphyxia on June 13, 1997 during the screening of Hindi film `Border`.