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December 12, 2011

Chief Minister pays homage to the victims of the fire tragedy, Kolkata citizens joins her

Chief Minister pays homage to the victims of the fire tragedy, Kolkata citizens joins her

Kolkata, December 12: People cutting across religious and social barriers led by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday took out a candlelight march to pay tribute to victims of the city's AMRI hospital fire tragedy which has claimed 90 lives.

Ms. Banerjee along with other eminent personalities of the city and hundreds of men, women marched silently holding tuberose stalks and candles, along the Jawaharlal Nehru Road. The march started from Birla Planetarium and ended at the Gandhi statue in Maidan area.

Several state government ministers and Trinamool leaders also took part in the rally where many people were seen carrying posters which wished peace for the departed souls.

Traffic came to a stand still on the other side of the busy thoroughfare as people alighted from public buses and stood on both sides of the road bowing their heads as a gesture of respect to the victims of the Dec 9 fire holocaust.

The procession ended at the base of the Gandhi statue where a podium with names of the dead was erected.

The Chief Minister lighted a big candle kept on the stage. Flowers and wreaths were used to pay respect at a temporary memorial built for the day.

An all faith prayer meeting saw a Hindu priest, Muslim cleric, Buddhist monk, Christian priest and Sikh religious leader reciting from their respective holy books.

The ceremony ended with all the people present reciting songs "Aguner Parashmoni Choyawoo Prane" and "Ragupati Raghava Raja Ram".

"I conclude the ceremony by thanking everybody for coming here. I pray to god and Allah that all those who died rest in peace," said Ms. Banerjee.

Earlier, in a subtle message to the police and administration, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called for ensuring there was no recurrence of the horrific AMRI Hospital fire tragedy that has so far claimed 93 lives – mostly patients trapped in beds.

"We all know how tragic and horrific the incident was. Such an incident should never ever recur. We need to ensure that such a tragedy is never repeated," said Banerjee paying homage at a column erected in memory of the victims at the Lions Safari Park, a short distance from the ill-fated hospital.

The names of the victims are inscribed in the column put up by Kolkata Police.

Along with Ms. Banerjee, several of her ministers, her party’s lawmakers and top police officers paid floral tributes and lighted candles at the solemn half-hour function as the police band played solemn tunes, bugles sounded the last post and policemen reversed guns.

Ms. Banerjee wished peace for the departed souls and called for non-recurrence of such an incident while penning her thoughts at the memorial diary kept under the column.

"People died a horrible death struggling to breathe. It’s so tragic and painful to realize. We must ensure that such a mishap never happens again," said Ms. Banerjee.

She also said a family member of the victims desirous of a job should approach the government.

"Along with the compensation from the central and the state government, whoever is desirous of getting a job should approach the authorities concerned. Necessary direction in this regard has already been issued," said Ms. Banerjee.

She also had words of praise for the people who worked tirelessly during and after the fire tragedy.

“By expressing my thanks, I do not want to belittle the efforts of those who worked tirelessly and silently rescuing the people, dousing the fire or doing the post-mortem procedures. They have done their jobs excellently. It is their duty to stand beside people in times of need," she said.