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Pranab seeks probe into Kolkata fire
Kolkata, Mar 28 (IANS):
Published on 29 Mar. 2010 12:11 AM IST
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Union Finance Minister and senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee Sunday demanded a probe into the Stephen Court fire tragedy, saying it was necessary to find if the inferno occurred due to “some negligence”.
Describing Tuesday’s blaze, which claimed 33 lives, as “heart-rending” and “pathetic”, Mukherjee told reporters the probe should establish whether proper safety measures had been taken by the authorities.
Replying to a query as to whether he would blame the authorities for the tragedy, Mukherjee said: “Before doing that, I first need to know what really happened.”
“A probe is needed. It should look into why the mishap occurred, whether proper safety measures had been taken,” said the state Congress president.
“The probe should find out whether it occurred because of some negligence, so that such incidents don’t recur,” he added.
Earlier, Mukherjee held a meeting with the district Congress presidents on forging an understanding with the Trinamool Congress in the coming municipal polls in West Bengal.
“In some districts, discussions on adjustment have already started with the Trinamool, while in some they are yet to start. If there are problems, we will see,” he said.
The elections to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation and 81 municipalities in the state are being regarded as a semi-final contest between the struggling ruling Left Front and the opposition Trinamool and Congress, ahead of the assembly polls next year.
Stephen Court effect: the traumatised may need counselling
The Stephen Court inferno, the sight of people jumping to their death to escape the blaze, the burnt corpses - all this has left scars on the minds of the victims’ families and the countless others who watched the horrific scenes on television. Many of them, especially the children, could need psychiatric help or counselling, experts say.
Consultant psychologist Indrani Dutta has seen her niece suffer from sleeplessness after watching for days the visuals of the raging fire in the century-old building on Kolkata’s Park Street. Thirty-three people died in the blaze.
“Repetition of such morbid scenes on television is unnecessary. Children are affected the most,” a worried Dutta told IANS.
Both the survivors and relatives of the victims of last Tuesday’s killer blaze are going through “unimaginable stress” and may become victims of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In that state, flashes of the incident will keep haunting them resulting in lack of sleep, fury, sorrow and an overall feeling of anxiety, says psychiatrist Arnab Banerjee.
“The mental pressure on them is enormous. Normally we are not accustomed to such incidents. So the sudden shock can be harmful. Loss of life, loss of property will add to the mental pressure,” Banerjee says.
Another psychiatrist, Debashis Roy, says the short term and long term mental effects could vary from person to person, as also the treatment. “The treatment will not be the same for every individual. Cases are different. We have to address the losses differently,” says Roy.

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