AMRI hospital fire victims’ kin want stern punishment for guilty

Kolkata, Dec 9: Relatives of victims in the AMRI hospital fire held a candlelight vigil Monday in front of the now closed premier health facility on the second anniversary of the tragedy that claimed 94 lives, mostly patients too infirm to move out of bed.

As kin of the dead and the injured lit candles outside the fire-ravaged seven-storey Annexe 1 building of the private establishment, they rallied for justice in the form of “strict punishment” for the hospital authorities.

“The protest will go on until the matter is resolved … until they get stern punishment,” said a family member.

According to reports, the fire that broke out around 2.40 am on Dec 9, 2011, started in the basement and left a trail of death and devastation as it swallowed up the upper storeys. The victims were choked to death after inhaling toxic fumes.

As many as 16 people including the directors of the hospitals spent weeks behind the bars as the legal battle jumped from one forum to other in the aftermath of the ghastly incident.

The victims’ families had formed The Human Health Right Forum (HHRF) – an association to fight for their rights – but the body is almost defunct now. However, some of them are still eager to fight on.

“We need to remember the day so that such tragedies do not occur anymore and society needs to stand together,” said another relative.

After being shut for two years, the hospital is set to start its outpatient department (OPD) services soon – albeit in the main building and the Annexe 2.

“We have received clearance from the state health department. The OPD will open soon but the date of reopening has not yet been decided,” said a hospital spokesperson.