கும்பகோணத்தில் நடந்த தீ விபத்து மிகவும் கோரமானது, வருத்தபட வேண்டிய விஷயம். ஆனால் அனைத்து ஊடகங்களும் ஆசிரியர்கள், குழந்தைகளை காப்பாற்றாததால் தான் இப்படிப் பட்ட விபத்து நிகழ்ந்து இருப்பதாக நமக்கு காட்டிக்கொண்டு இருக்கின்றன. சன் டி.வி யோ இந்த நேரத்தில் தான் கும்பகோணம் நகராட்சி சுடுகாட்டினை சரியாக பராமரிக்கவில்லை, நகராட்சி மந்தமாக இருக்கிறது என்று கூறி இங்கேயும் கூட 'அரசியல்' செய்துகொண்டு இருக்கிறது. இதில் எந்த ஊடகங்களுக்கும் உண்மையினை சொல்லவேண்டும் என்ற கடமையில்லை, இந்தியன் எக்ஸ்பிரஸினைத் தவிர. நான் இங்கு வெட்டி-ஒட்டியிருக்கும் இந்தியன் எக்ஸ்பிரஸின் செய்தினை படிக்கும் போதுதான் நம் ஊடகங்கள் எப்படி sensationalise செய்கிறார்கள் என்று புரிகிறது. சம்பவம் நடந்து நான்கு நாட்கள் ஆகிறது கீழே இருக்கும் செய்தினைப் பற்றி தமிழ்நாட்டின் பிரபல ஊடகங்களான ஹிண்டுவோ, சன் டி.வியோ அல்லது என்.டி.டி.வி யோ ஒன்றும் சொன்னதாக தெரியவில்லை.இதைப் படித்த பிறகு எந்த பத்திரிக்கையினை நம்புவது என்று குழப்பம்தான் மேலிடுகிறது. Publicity, publicity, PUBLICITY is the greatest moral factor and force in our public life என்று கூறினாராம் பத்திரிக்கையாளர்களின் குரு என மதிக்கப்படும் ஜோஸஃப் புலிட்சர், சரியாத்தான் சொன்னார்.
We tried to save the children, claim teachers
Posted online: Monday, July 19, 2004 at 0128 hours IST
KUMBAKONAM, JULY 18: Recalling the horrifying death of 90 primary school children in the fire at the Sri Krishna School, S. Geetha, a teacher there, has been shedding silent tears for the past three days. Amid tears, she says that she is not "absconding", as put out by the police. With threats from the local people, particularly the relatives of the victims, she has been living in fear behind closed doors in her own home on Middle Dhabir Street.
Sankari and Kavitha " both teachers " have been admitted to a private hospital. While Sankari has "chest pain and acute tension", Kavitha, who was five months pregnant, has suffered an abortion. "I didn’t want to come out until every child was brought out. But choked by the fumes, I swooned inside the classroom. When I recovered consciousness, I was inside Vinayar Temple, near the school," Sankari said from her hospital bed.
Kavitha was too shocked to speak. Amid sobs, Sankari said: "I tried to return to the school, but by then bodies were being piled one over the other. I saw Kavitha. She was bleeding profusely. Someone had stomped on her stomach while she was rescuing the children." Most teachers met today at various places in the town apparently to decide on the next move. Some said two of the teachers who were taking classes on the first floor, barring one Mariam Angeline, had left town on "the police’s advice". "I heard the police asking them to leave. They told them the mob would kill them if they stayed. Most of them have gone to their relatives’ houses in Thanjavur. I don’t know why they are saying now that we are absconding. None of us are underground," a teacher added.
Angeline has already been interrogated and is having a tough time coping with the infamy of failing to protect the kids. "It is easy to say we escaped. But we know what we went through to save as many as 700 children," says Geetha. Narrating the sequence of the rescue, she said the teachers evacuated the toddlers on the ground floor as soon as the kitchen roof caught fire. "They were on the street amidst speeding lorries. Two of us took it on ourselves to ensure that the students crossed the street safely. But the people on the streets mistook us as running away selfishly, which was not the case," she said. By then the teachers turned off the power supply and evacuated the students under the concrete roof. "
We told the students under the concrete roof to evacuate quickly and make way for those from the first floor who were rushing down. The teachers were all helping evacuate the kids. But by the time the students could get out of the narrow exits, the thatched roof on the first floor caught fire and fell on the students...but no one seems to understand and are painting us in villainous colours," she said, tears welling in her eyes. Most teachers said they were willing to meet the police and the adminstration to relate their story if they were given adequate protection. "We are helpless. We want don’t want to keep quiet. But there seems to be no easy way out," notes Shanti, another teacher.