Punjab Minister and Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu has reiterated that the real culprit in the Amritsar train tragedy that claimed 61 lives on the Dussehra day, was the Indian Railways.
Punjab Minister and Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu has reiterated that the real culprit in the Amritsar train tragedy that claimed 61 lives on the Dussehra day, was the Indian Railways. In an interview with The Indian Express, Sidhu said that driver of the train is making wrong allegations that the public was pelting stones and hence he decided not to stop the train.
“There were many other Dussehra events that were organised without permission. Did the accident take place on Dhobi Ghat land? The accident occurred on railways lines,” Sidhu said.
Questioning the government on what basis the driver was given a clean chit, he said, “What should have the speed of the train been? Why is the driver making wrong allegations on people about stone pelting? Why was no medical test of the driver done?”
When asked whom the organisers should ask for permission in future – Municipal Corporation Amritsar (MCA) or Amritsar Improvement Trust (AIT), he said, “If the organiser had asked for the permission and MCA didn’t grant it, why was the event allowed to take place?”
The MCA and AIT are at the loggerheads over who was responsible for giving permission for organising an event at the Dhobi.
Sidhu said that it has been going on like this for 50 years. “Such events were held without permissions.” He said that all concerned should take collective responsibility for the event.
When Sidhu was reminded that he himself is the local bodies minister, he said, “Minister does not give permissions. Officials give permission. If an illegal building is constructed, who gives the permission? Obviously, officials.”
“And if officials are not able to stop construction of illegal building, should he/she be held responsible for it or not?” he said.
“I have to run whole state. Can I be held responsible for what an official is doing?” he asked.
Defending the MCA, Sidhu said that “how is MCA responsible for what happened on railways property?”
“Still I didn’t say who is responsible and who is not. But railways minister came and gave clean chit to organiser within three hours,” he said.
Railways had, however, ruled out any punitive action against the driver, saying there was no negligence on the part of the national transporter and has been maintaining that it had no intimation about the Dussehra event.
“The incident was not a railways’ fault. There was no lapse on our part and no action against the driver will be initiated. People should refrain from organising such events near tracks in future,” MoS for Railways Manoj Sinha had said.
Sidhu and his wife Navjot Kaur have come under fire from victims’ families and opposition leaders after October 19 evening tragedy when a speeding passenger mowed down people watching the burning of a Ravana effigy. The event was organised by close aides of Sidhu from the Congress. Victims have accused Kaur of being present at the event when the accident took place and running away from there minutes later. Sidhu, however, has dismissed the allegations and termed them as ‘petty politics on the tragedy’.