A magisterial inquiry into the Amritsar train accident in October has cleared Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and his wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu, according to reports on Thursday. The report prepared by Jalandhar divisional commissioner B Purushartha has indicted the son of a Congress councillor who organised the Dussehra event during which the accident occurred.
As many as 62 people were killed and several others injured as a train coming from Jalandhar ran over a crowd of Dussehra revellers near the Amritsar railway station on October 19. The train was coming from Jalandhar to Amritsar at great speed when around 300 people were watching 'Ravan dahan' at the Dussehra event near Chaura Bazaar. Railway police forces and locals were rushed to the accident spot and rescue operations are underway, sources said, adding that the injured have been taken to hospitals in the vicinity.
Sidhu’s name was cleared in the 300-page inquiry report because he was not present in Amritsar on that fateful day. His wife, Navjot Kaur Sidhu, was given a clean chit because she was invited as a special guest to the event and hence couldn’t be held responsible for the lapses that led to the tragedy. She claimed she had left the venue before the trains reached the spot, but Opposition parties had said that she left immediately after the tragedy.
After getting a clean chit, Navjot Kaur said, "If I am called to attend an event and an incident takes place there, then how am I responsible for it? These are attempts to malign the name of Sidhu family."
Navjot Kaur Sidhu on reports of being given a clean chit in Magistrate inquiry into #AmritsarTrainAccident: If I am called to attend an event and an incident takes place there, then how am I responsible for it? These are attempts to malign the name of Sidhu family. pic.twitter.com/op6YNAZBu7— ANI (@ANI) December 6, 2018
Saurabh Madan Mithu, the son of Congress councillor Vijay Madan, who was the organiser of the event didn’t have the requisite permissions to hold Dusshera celebrations near the railway tracks. The crowd was not managed well, according to news reports. The report also indicted the Amritsar district administration, the municipal corporation, local police and railway employees for the incident, reported The Indian Express.
The magistrate report, which will now be submitted to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, also said that the local administration should have ensured adequate security arrangements. The local administration had granted permission to the event organiser with a rider that they should also get permission from the municipal corporation, failing which the local administration’s approval would be considered null and void.
Last month, Commissioner of Railway Safety Shailesh Kumar Pathak, who conducted an investigation into the train accident, had said the incident occurred because of an “error in working by public near railway line”. The report cleared the Railways of any wrongdoing in the incident.