23 December 1995 may be the most unforgettable day for the people of the small town in India, Dabwali. The rooster’s rampage at the DAV Public Schools claimed the lives of 530 children and parents trapped while attending the school’s annual event.
The event was held in a tent installed in the school hall. Nobody expected a major disaster. A disaster that in less than ten minutes had ravaged one percent of the city’s population.
The accident stems from the burning of the tents installed in the building due to a short circuit in the electric generator. The fire spread rapidly until it surrounded the main entrance. The biggest cause of death was none other than the fact that thousands of people were jostling for one doorway.
Launched NDTV, Wednesday, December 23, the fire spread rapidly through the tent made of plywood and polyester, has a corrugated metal roof and is surrounded by brick walls 10 feet high. Many of those who died were mothers and their children. They are killed by smoke, fire or the rush as the terrified onlookers try to escape.
The sorrow over the deaths of hundreds of people turned into mass rage. About 5,000 mourners protested and demanded inadequate emergency facilities.
They prevented the police who wanted to transport the corpses to carry out the cremation. The crowd threatened to knock down the walls of the hospital they thought were inadequate. The police then controlled the crowd and the protesters only dispersed five hours later.
“Is this the way to run a hospital?” said protester Suresh Singh. He said the hospital had only 10 beds for 50,000 people in the city and did not adequately accommodate the injured.
The green table ends
In 2009, the Supreme Court upheld the verdict of the Punjab and Haryana High Courts. The DAV Public School Management filed an appeal to the Supreme Court against the High Court ruling ordering the school to pay Rs. 33 crore compensation to the victims of the fire tragedy.
On November 9 of that year, the High Court ordered a total compensation of 55 crore Rupees from the DAV Public School management of 33 crore Rupees and from the Haryana Government of 22 crore Rupees. The Haryana government has accepted the High Court decision and immediately deposited its share. However, DAV management again filed an appeal to the Supreme Court in 2010.
In the tragedy, some lost children and some lost their parents. Venus Sethi, for example, is one of the survivors who lost her parents and older sister. However, as a result of the accident, he lost one arm and suffered 60 percent burns.
When the accident happened, Sethi was only three years old. He tries to live a normal life. But when someone talks to him, somewhere someone feels that he has no childhood.
“I lost my father, mother, and sister. I lost all three. But today I feel that whatever was destined, happened I didn’t really think about it,” said Sethi.
“I don’t remember anything about it but hearing from people that it was a great tragedy. Every year on December 23, I go there and see all the names and there are all the photos of the victims too. I pray for my family,” he concluded.