CHANDIGARH: Describing the Dussehra-day bloodbath at Amritsar as "a man-made tragedy of an unprecedented magnitude" in Punjab, former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal today accused the state government of "shocking and heartless non-seriousness", adding that nothing symbolizes this non-seriousness and indifference more than the decision of Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to desert the people of the state in their hour of extreme grief.
"I find it insensitive and careless beyond belief that the Chief Minister chose to leave his state and his people to their own fate and decided to proceed on an utterly avoidable foreign trip. In his shoes, I would have cancelled the trip. I would prefer to spend this time addressing and minimizing the misery of the people of my state in their hour of most gruesome, man-made tragedy in decades," Mr Badal said while talking to media persons after a delegation of the SAD-BJP called on Governor V P Singh Badnore for his intervention to ensure justice to the victims and punishment to the guilty in the Amritsar tragedy.
The former chief minister, who earlier accompanied a joint SAD-BJP delegation led by SAD Prsesident Sukhbir Singh Badal and BJP State President Shwet Malik to submit a memorandum to the Governor, said that the tragedy could have been easily avoided if the Navjot Singh Sidhu and his spouse had displayed even the elementary sense of responsibility by refusing to be associated with an event without the appropriate government permission.
"Thousands had been brought to the function by the organizers who enjoy the direct patronage and protection of the Sidhus at the site which was highly vulnerable and tragedy-prone as it lay right adjacent to a busy railway line where long distance trains routinely ply," Mr Badal said and added that If they had sought government permission, it would in all probability have been denied or been granted only in consultation with the Railways.
The veteran Akali leader said that he had been surprised by the brazenness being shown by the culprits of this greatest tragedy in decades.
"Instead of showing any remorse and humility, they are going about like boastful champions, glorifying their role in the gruesome dance of death. This is the height of being thick-skinned and of shamelessness."
He reiterated his party's demand for the immediate sack of Navjot Singh Sidhu from the Punjab Council of Ministers and registration of criminal cases against all those responsible, including the prime accused Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, his wife Navjot Kaur, the Congress Councillor and Dussehra Organiser, Saurabh Madan Mithu for their part in the tragedy.