The Hush Post: About 10 days ahead of the completion of 22nd year of the most horrendous fire accidents of our times, the Dabwali fire tragedy, which left 442 people dead half of them school children, a Sirsa court in Dabwali town has directed the DAV School Management Committee to pay the interest amount of Rs 3.32 crore, it had been withholding, by December 22. Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate Ritu passed the order on Monday on an execution petition moved by the Dabwali Fire Victims Association, which has been fighting for justice to the victim families since the incident occurred on December 23, 1995.
Around 1,500 persons had gathered at the annual function of DAV School, Dabwali, at a marriage palace, when a synthetic tent caught fire due to a short-circuit, leading to a stampede and the consequent deaths. Those affected by the incident are scarred for life, emotionally and physically. No amount of money can lessen their pain and the loss of their loved ones.
On the basis of the Supreme Court order, the victims had moved the Dabwali court by filing an execution petition for the recovery of Rs 3.32 crore (interest), said Dabwali Fire Victims Association Vinod Bansal.
Talking about the legal battle till date, Bansal said compensation claims had been submitted before the Punjab and Haryana High Court-appointed TP Garg Commission on behalf of 405 deceased and 88 injured persons.
In November 2009, the High Court had ordered a compensation of Rs 34.14 crore to the victims, 45 per cent of which was to be paid by the Haryana Government and the rest by the DAV School Management Committee.
While the government immediately paid the money, the school committee moved the Supreme Court, where it was directed to first deposit Rs 10 crore with the court.
In 2013, the apex court rejected the DAV committee’s special leave petition and it was directed to make the rest of the payment to the victims. While the committee paid the principal amount, it withheld the interest.
The school again contested the victims’ petition for interest in the lower court, district court, High Court and up to the Supreme Court where the interest was reduced from 10 per cent, as demanded by the victims, to 6 per cent.