"Had my son been alive, he would have finished college and would have been working now. He would have taken care of me but because of the negligence of school authorities, he died. He burnt to death and his killers have been allowed to walk free. Where is the justice?" asked Mahesh, father of Vignesh who died in the 2004 horrific school fire tragedy in Kumbakonam.
The Madras High Court on Thursday allowed nine accused in the case to walk free. 13 years after a horrific fire accident at a school in Kumbakonam killed 94 children, the Madras High Court acquitted nine accused in the case. The order has come as a heartbreak for parents who have been fighting for justice.
"We have fought relentlessly for years so no child would suffer the fate that our children did. My son died for every child in Tamil Nadu who had to study in a school with a thatched roof. We hope that the government appeals against the conviction," Mahesh added.
Justice Sathya Narayan and Justice Velumani bench of the Madras High Court dismissed the charges against the accused without specifying the reason for acquittal. The accused were asked to pay fines and were let off. "The mothers are inconsolable. Imagine our plight, we have lost our kids and now justice evades us," Mahesh said. A protest has been called for in Kumbakonam on Friday against the order.
The tragic fire
On July 16, 2004, a fire broke out at the Sri Krishna Middle School. The school had a thatched roof and the fire spread quickly to another school. While more than 700 students were studying in all three schools run by the same management illegally, 94 kids were charred to death by the blaze.
24 people, including the school's correspondent and founder, were held responsible for the incident that snuffed the life out of 94 children. A trial court in Thanjavur had convicted 10 people and acquitted 11 people in the case. The headmaster was sentenced to life imprisonment. Now 9 more people have been allowed to walk free.
"This will only make the criminals more brazen. It will not deter any other school authorities from doing the same mistake. Is this what my son died for," asked a grief-stricken Mahesh.