Year on, scars of Amritsar Dussehra tragedy remain for the victims' families

Around dusk on October 19, a DMU (diesel multiple unit) mowed down a crowd standing on the rail tracks near Joda Phatak in Amritsar.

Published: 08th October 2019 10:02 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th October 2019 10:02 AM   |  A+A-

Amritsar rail tragedy

A crowd gathers at the site of Friday's train accident in Amritsar, India. (File| AP)


AMRITSAR: For many here, this Dussehra is a painful reminder of last year's tragedy when a train sliced through revellers watching a Ravana effigy go up in flames, killing 61 people.

Around dusk on October 19, a DMU (diesel multiple unit) mowed down a crowd standing on the rail tracks near Joda Phatak in Amritsar.

"My father Baldev Kumar who received multiple fractures with severe backbone injuries died five months after the accident. We are still running around to get his name registered in the list of those who died in the tragedy," Rajesh Kumar said on Monday.

He said they didn't get any compensation either from the state government or the Centre.

Kanta Rani, wife of Baldev, said, "After the demise of my husband, getting two square meals a day has become difficult."

She claimed that even former Punjab minister and local MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu and his family were reluctant to meet them or listen to their grievances.

"Whatever the savings we had, have already been spent on the treatment of my husband and now we are feeling helpless," she said.

Tears rolled down cheeks of Preeti, who had lost her husband Dinesh (32) and son Abhishek (9) in the tragedy.

"Mere compensation is not enough. I need a government job and want that action be taken against the guilty. Otherwise, I will remain mentally disturbed for the rest of my life," Preeti said.

ALSO READ | A year after Amritsar train tragedy, Navjot Sidhu's promises remain unfulfilled this Dussehra

Navjit, who had lost his son Sachin (15) in the accident, said, "No one in the world can bring back my son. At least, our government should fix the responsibility for the train accident so that such incidents do not take place in future. Only strict punishment to the guilty can stop such incidents."

This time, the authorities, say they have been very careful in permitting Dussehra events in the city.

"The permission was given after a thorough examination of the location and keeping the safety of people in mind.

No permission was granted for the celebrations near the rail tracks," DSP Jagmohan Singh told PTI.

Keeping in view the tragedy, the department had given permission for the celebrations at only 10 places against last year's 19 locations, he added.

On September 28, 30 families had staged a protest outside the house of former Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu in Amritsar, demanding jobs for the kin of the dead.

The former Punjab minister's wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu was the chief guest at the event held on October 19 last year.

The Sidhu couple had failed to honour their promise of providing government jobs, the agitators had claimed.

The protesters claimed that Sidhu had promised them to bear their monthly kitchen expenses besides ensuring free education to victims of the train tragedy but nothing of that sort happened.

Deepak Kumar, who had lost his father Gurinder Kumar and uncle Pawan Kumar in the train accident, said on Monday, "We received compensation from the state and the Union governments but the job is nowhere. I want strict action against those responsible for the massacre."

Monica, who had lost her husband Jagdish, said, "A widow can't survive without a job or money in hand. The compensation given by the governments won't last long."

After the train tragedy, the Punjab government had announced Rs 5 lakh to the kin of those who died in the accident.

The Centre had also announced to give Rs 2 lakh to the family of the each dead.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had ordered an inquiry into the incident.

A 300-page report was submitted to the Punjab Home Secretary in November last year.

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