“The compensation is too less, but I do not want to appeal again,” said a parent who lost two sons in the fire.

Too little too late 12 years after 94 kids died in Kumbakonam fire parents get compensation
news Court Wednesday, October 19, 2016 - 21:37

On Tuesday, the Madras High Court awarded compensation of Rs 5 lakhs with interest from the date of accident to the families of the children killed in the Kumbakonam fire accident. However, parents of the victims feel the compensation is too little, and cannot compensate for the loss and pain that they have suffered for the last 12 years. 

K Inbaraj, (49), lost two of his children in the accident. “The compensation is too less but I do not want to appeal again. The government cannot ever compensate the pain the death of our children has caused us,” he said.

Remembering the incident, Inbaraj said, “After 12 years, now we are more upset. If both my sons had been alive today, both would have been going to college and making us feel proud. We only have one daughter left. If both sons had been there, they would have been a great strength to all three of us.”

Inbaraj’s sons, Praveenraj (then eight) and Anandraj (then 10) died in the fire accident in Krishna English medium school. Inbaraj works as a shopkeeper and lives with his daughter Jansirani (16) and wife Christy (46) in Kumbakonam. 

Narrating the events of 2004, Inbaraj said, “I was working in my shop when people told me that the school next to my children’s school was burning, I ran to the school and it was crowded with people, ambulance, police and fire rescue team. The school officials were claiming that everyone was fine,” he said.

When he reached the hospital, he saw that many children were in a critical condition. “I first saw my younger son’s body and then my elder son’s body. I was shattered. The only relief was that one of our children was studying in another school,” he said. 

He said that the petition was filed by him only to make sure that such incidents are not repeated in future. “It took 12 years for the judgement to come because the court took it as just another petty case. The court took 10 years to punish the culprits behind the accident,” said Inbaraj.

On Tuesday, the court stated, “We are hopeful to note that the government has accepted the request of the petitioner to pay compensation with interest from the date of accident and interest rates prevailing for different financial years as on 2004-11 at 8 per cent, 2011-12 at 8.6 per cent and 2012-2016 at 8.7 per cent, respectively,” said the First Bench of Chief Justice SK Kaul and Justice R Mahadevan, reports The Hindu.

Earlier the court had granted compensation of Rs 5 lakh, but the petitioner had re-appealed for higher compensation of Rs 25 lakh to the families of the deceased. 

On July 16, 2004, a fire broke out at the kitchen of Sri Krishna Middle School and later the fire spread to the first floor through the thatched roof top. More than 700 children were enrolled in three schools illegally run by the owners. 

94 students died in this incident. The investigation showed that there was only one staircase for the children to exit and there was no proper fire safety equipment in the school. 

In 2012, the court set up a commission to conduct an inquiry into the case and 24 people were held responsible for the incident, including the founder of the school, Prabhakaran, the headmaster of the Sri Krishna Girls High School, ‘Pulavar’ Palanisamy, the school correspondent, Saraswathi, her adopted daughter, Santhalakshmi, the then Municipal Commissioner, Sathyamurthy, the then Town Planning Officer, K Murugan, three school teachers and Education Department officials.

A Thanjavur district court on July 30, 2014 convicted ten accused and acquitted 11 people in the case. A 10-year jail term was given to the owner of the school and a fine of Rs 47 lakh was slapped on the school headmaster, who was also sentenced to life imprisonment.

 

 

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