CHANDIGARH: A magisterial probe in the Amritsar train mishap on October 19 in which 61 people lost their lives has held the organisers, the Railways, the Punjab Police and the Municipal Corporation officials responsible for various omissions, which it says led to the tragedy.
The report of the inquiry, carried out by Jalandhar Divisional Commissioner B Purushartha on the orders of the Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh revealed several gaps in regulation and supervision. “Everyone concerned with organisation, regulation and supervision of the event committed omissions and commissions including dereliction of statutory duties,” it observed, adding, “it is true that such omissions/commissions/dereliction of duties have not been done for the first time (but), in this event it combined with the blunders on the part of key rail employees and a ripe situation for this accident was created.”
The event celebrating Dussehra was organised by councillor Vijay Madan and her son Sourabh Madan Mithu who are considered to be close to the state’s Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and his wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu. The ward in which the accident took place falls under the Amritsar East Assembly constituency represented by Sidhu.
The report states that while the spectators “committed the mistake” of watching the event from the rail tracks, the organisers held it without any permission and without undertaking the required safety measures. It blamed the Police and local municipal functionaries for their failure to enforce the law and added that several rail employees had failed to take safety measures even after knowing of the presence of a crowd on and around the tracks.
“Gateman of Jaura Phatak, Gate No 27, Amit Singh has not only failed in discharging his statutory duties but also committed a blunder in not taking appropriate safety and security measures,” the report said. It also named the gate man of gate 26, and said he did not inform Amit Singh of the gathering of people till it was too late and that he kept clearing trains through the route without informing the station master of the crowd. “It is also evident that the organisers conducted this event without taking adequate precautions... to ensure safety...” it added.
The report however, made it clear that Sidhu’s wife, who attended the function as a chief guest, had no role in organising the event.