Post-pub blaze, Mumbaikars nix plans of New Year partying

Mumbai, Dec 30 (IANS) Traumatised by the pub fire which killed 14 on Friday, many Mumbaikars on Saturday said they have either cancelled or scaled down their planned New Year Eve celebrations.

Simultaneously, social media campaigns were launched with hashtags like #MumbaiMourning# appealing to people to boycott celebrations or at least subdue them.

The Public Relations Council of India launched a drive #VrPlayingWithFire# to focus attention on the appalling lack of fire safety in public places, said its national president B.N. Kumar.

“Don’t we see that restaurants, hotels, multiplexes, etc that we visit have narrow passages that could be death traps in case of accidents,” asked PRCI Chairman Emeritus M.B. Jayaram.

“#vrplayingwithfire Do our homes, eateries, cinemas, offices, clubs, Rly stations, airports etc have fire safety norms? Raise ur voice, ask questions, post here & other platforms. No lessons learnt from past disasters? Act now, else repent later. Join @PRCINOW campaign,” said PRCI tweets which have tagged media houses, professionals, influencers and the PMO and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp were flooded with messages from celebs to commoners paying homage to the 14 victims and lashing out at the authorities.

Candle-lightt marches and silent processions were also organised on Saturday by various organisations, including Sahas Foundation, which urged people to boycott celebrations in hotels, pubs, or restaurants, not burst crackers to welcome the New Year.

Diamond trader Dharmesh Jhaveri of Vile Parle appealed to people to take part in a peace-cum-solidarity march from Parel Station to the Kamala Mills Compound in memory of the victims.

Tushar A. Gandhi, the great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, however, frowned at the candle-marches and silent processions. “This is the time for direct protect and demand strict enforcement of rules and regulations, and a thorough cleanup of the rotten system. Protest and picket,” Gandhi told IANS.

Corporate trainer and marketing consultant Venkat Iyer asked: “Why do such tragedies keep happening time and again, and why have we become a ‘post-mortem nation’ instead of being a pro-active one.”

“Post-mortems only tell us the cause, the focus should be on how we can prevent such inidents. Accordingly, my wife Ramya and I have no plans for any celebrations,” he said.

Hotel executive Albert Amanna said after the tragedy, his family has voted against going out for partying on Sunday.

“You pay a premium price these days, the services and food don’t give you VFM. Sadly, everyone tries to make their last buck of the year greedily, and at risk to our lives. But being at home with family and dear ones will be the best that can happen this New Year Eve,” Amanna told IANS.

RTI activist and social worker J.P. Vaghani said it will be best not to celebrate New Year Eve this year.

“We must respect the victims of the Kamala Mills Compound tragedy. Their families should feel the people of Mumbai are with them in their hour of sorrow,” he said.

Mumbai lawyer Vivekanand Gupta on Saturday lodged a complaint with Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission, pointing at gross violations of human rights in the December 29 fire in the restaurants which killed 14. The MSHRC Chairman has issued directions for an urgent hearing in the matter, he said.

Meanwhile, several restaurants, resorts, hotels and other venues for New Year Eve parties have reported cancellations by patrons, especially in the Lower Parel area.