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Ten convicted in Kumbakonam school fire tragedy

A decade after a devastating fire killed 94 school children, a local court in Thanjavur today convicted 10 persons and acquitted 11 others in the ghastly school fire tragedy in Kumbakonam. 

 

Of the convicted, five were held guilty under various IPC sections including 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others), 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 285 (negligent conduct with respect to fire or combustible matter), and provisions of Tamil Nadu Recognised Private Schools (Regulation) Act, 1973. 

 

Those found guilty under these sections were Palanisamy, owner and founder of the School, his wife and correspondent Saraswathi, headmistress Santhalakshmi, noon meal organiser Vijayalakshmi and cook Vasanthi. 

 

The quantum of sentence will be pronounced later in the day. 

 

The fire broke out from the makeshift noon meal kitchen and spread to a thatched roof hut in the first floor, killing 94 children and causing burns to 18 others. There were around 200 students in the classrooms that caught fire. Reports stated that three schools functioned in the same premises including Sri Krishna Aided Private School, Saraswathi Nursery and Primary School and the Sri Krishna Girls High School.

 

Questions were raised as to how three schools were operating in one block and how various approvals were given by concerned departments. 

 

The school had inadequate exit routes for the children to escape and the gates were locked when the accident happened. The burning thatch and the bamboo poles fell blocking the exit routes.

 

The case started to gather pace when charges were framed against 21 accused in 2012 and trial began soon after that and around 230 prosecution witnesses were examined. The headmaster of Sri Krishna Girls High School Prabhakaran turned approver.

 

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