NEW DELHI -- Two decades after a fire in Uphaar cinema in Delhi killed 59 people, the brothers who owned the theatre have been let off with a short jail term and a hefty fine. Reacting to the judgement by the Supreme Court, the grief-stricken mother of two teenaged children who were among those who died in the fire broke down.
"I made a mistake by coming to the court, I think I should have picked up a gun and shot the Ansals," Neelam Krishnamoorthy told journalists on Thursday, sobbing. "At least I would not have had to go through this torture. I am ashamed to be an Indian."
In a rare move, the apex court on Thursday revisited its earlier ruling and asked 74-year-old Gopal Ansal to spend seven more months in jail to finish a year's imprisonment, while sparing older brother Sushil, 77, the same fate on account of his age and ill-health.
"Is it my fault that the case took 20 years?" Krishnamoorthy told Hindustan Times. "What kind of precedence is the court setting, that yes, you are guilty of 'death by negligence' but you can still walk free because you're 77."
Her children, Unnati and Ujjwal, were 17 and 13 years old respectively when they choked to death after the cinema caught fire. None of the victims died of burns, but because extra seats blocking the exit gates were constructed by the Ansal brothers.
Neelam, along with her husband Shekhar have been at the forefront of the fight against the Ansal brothers, and told HT on Thursday that she would file a curative petition against Sushil Ansal's discharge.
"When you play cricket, you play till the last ball," she told HT.
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