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Uphaar tragedy: Age, Ansals and gift from judiciary

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By Ridham Gambhir

Getting old is an unavoidable facet. The same became more of an advantage than a liability when the Ansal brothers got released from their sentenced punishment because of their “old age”.

Sushil Ansal (75) and Gopal Ansal (67) were granted bail on Friday when the Supreme Court said that Sushil is “fairly aged” and his younger brother deserves “parity” with him and that it was not “fruitful” for them to undergo rigorous punishment.

UphaarFire_reutersOn June 13, 1997, 59 people died and over 100 were injured when a fire broke out at Uphaar Cinema, New Delhi during the screening of Border.

A probe into the incident revealed several regulatory violations such as- no functional public announcement system, no emergency lights, foot lights, or exit lights; and blocked gateways (due to unauthorized seating arrangement installed by the theatre authorities).

Ansal brothers alone can’t be held responsible for this fiasco. The fire broke out due to faulty wiring in the transformer that was installed by Delhi Vidyut Board (DVB) in the cinema hall.

“The cause of death was suffocation due to the fire and the Ansal Brothers can’t be blamed for that,”  argued Ram Jethmalani , lawyer for the estate barons in 2008 hearing in HC.

If old age is being taken into consideration while releasing the Ansal brothers, then what about Om Prakash Chautala (80) and Subroto Roy (67)? Both of these men are in jail for committing financial crimes, yet they haven’t been released till now considering their “old age”.

As per the data compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), more than 87,000 people, 60 and above, were arrested under the Indian Penal Code and Special Local Law crimes in 2014. In 2013, around 53,000 people in the age group 50 and above were put behind bars.

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The victims of this horrible accident united under the banner name of the ‘Association of Victims of Uphaar Fire Tragedy’ (AVUT), which won ₹25 crore as a compensation for their dead relatives. However, Supreme Court, on 13 October 2011, nearly halved the sum of compensation awarded to them by the Delhi High Court.

The fire broke out 18 years back, when Sushil Ansal was 57 years old and Gopal Ansal was 49. Our judicial system didn’t give them an ‘appropriate punishment’ at that time, and now it is ‘replacing’ their punishment by a means of monetary compensation. Have the brothers grown too old or has our law enforcement got too weak?

If the Ansal brothers are too old to deal with the punishment given to them. then think about the families of those 59 who have grown old in the memory of their loved ones.

The tragedy took place a long time back, but it’s wounds are still fresh. And those who gave these wounds have grown “too old” to suffer their wrongdoings! Is this is uphaar (gift) from our judiciary to these brothers?

 

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Aging Women Likely to Consume More Alcohol: Study

Women tend to drink more alcohol as they age

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Alcohol women
Women aged 50-70 are more likely to consume alcohol than younger women, at levels that exceed low risk drinking guidelines. Pixabay

Women aged 50-70 are more likely to consume alcohol than younger women, at levels that exceed low risk drinking guidelines, according to a new health study.

The researchers found that despite the potential health risks of exceeding national drinking guidelines, many middle-aged and young-old women who consume alcoholic drinks at high risk levels tend to perceive their drinking as normal and acceptable, so long as they appear respectable and in control.

For the findings, published in the journal Sociology of Health & Illness, researchers at New Edith Cowan University (ECU) in Australia and Aalborg University in Denmark, investigated the social construction of alcohol use among 49 women aged 50 to 69 in Australia and Denmark.

Alcohol women
Many middle-aged and young-old women who consume alcohol at high risk levels tend to perceive their drinking as normal and acceptable, so long as they appear respectable and in control. Pixabay

“The research highlighted that respondents from both countries indicated that alcohol use among women their age was normal and acceptable,” said study lead author Julie Dare from ECU.

According to Australian health authorities, drinking more than two standard drinks on any day increases the risk considerably of premature death over a woman’s lifetime.

The researchers found that women place more importance on appearing to be in control, behaving respectably, social pleasure and feeling liberated than the quantity of alcohol consumed or potential health risks.

While some women reported reducing their drinking due to health concerns, others suggested that positive health behaviours such as exercise served to ‘neutralise’ related health risks.

According to the study, health advice and interventions relating to middle-aged and young-old women’s drinking practices need to acknowledge that women may socially construct their drinking practices to prioritise matters other than biomedical impacts of alcohol.

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While the study highlighted many similarities between Australian and Danish women, one interesting cultural difference was the way Australian women thought about alcohol in relation to stress.

“If the Australian women had some sort of distress in their lives they believed it was acceptable to drink. They were quite open about this saying ‘I just had a bad day, I needed to have a drink’,” Dare said. (IANS)