NEWS
22/10/2018 12:25 PM IST | Updated 22/10/2018 12:26 PM IST

Amritsar Train Tragedy: Accusations Flying Thick And Fast, But No One Is Willing To Accept Responsibility

The Punjab government, Railways, event organisers, the police and the driver are blaming each other for an incident that killed 61 people.

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Police stand guard as a freight train passes along rail tracks towards Amritsar railway station, two days after the train accident.

Two days after more than 60 people died in Amritsar after being hit by a train on Dussehra, a blame game that has erupted over who is responsible for the tragedy shows no signs of ending soon. The Punjab Home Department has now asked Divisional Commissioner Jalandhar, Baldeo Purushartha, to conduct a magisterial inquiry into the incident.

Reports say that the inquiry will also look into "remedial measures to ensure that such unfortunate incident do not reoccur".

On Monday, DGP Punjab Suresh Arora said on the sidelines of of the Commemoration Day parade, that there had been negligence and that liability had to be fixed.

The probe report will be submitted within four weeks.

Meanwhile, everyone is blaming everyone else for the tragedy.

Navjot Singh Sidhu blames Railways

Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu questioned the Railways for giving a clean chit to the loco-pilot.

PTI quoted him as saying, "What sort of commission did you set up that you gave a clean chit to him (loco-pilot) in one day? Either the driver was permanent or he was engaged for one day. Why do not you say?"

Sidhu's wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu had taken part in the event at Joda Phatak, where the accident happened.

The railways, PTI reported, ruled out an inquiry, saying that the accident was caused due to trespassing, and that the organisers had failed to inform the local administration or railways about the event.

"When you stop (the train) for cow, you even get an FIR registered if someone is found sitting on a track. And you ran over...people and you did not stop. And what was the speed of train? It was more than 100 km per hour, Zip it goes," PTI quoted Sidhu as saying.

Sidhu claimed that announcements were made from the stage, asking people to stay away from the railway tracks.

Cops, municipal corporation blame organisers

While the organisers of the event are on the run, reports say that the police has accepted that Saurabh Mittoo Madan, the organiser of the Ram Leela event, had gotten a 'no objection certificate' from them for the event.

Amrik Singh Powar, Amritsar's Deputy Commissioner of Police, told PTI that the organisers were given a 'no objection certificate' on the condition that they also get permission from the municipal corporation and the pollution department.

However, the Amritsar Municipal Corporation said the organisers did not ask for any permission.

"Nobody was given permission for organising the Dussehra event. Moreover, nobody had applied for the permission with the Amritsar Municipal Corporation," Commissioner Sonali Giri told PTI.

Witnesses blames driver

The driver of the train had said in a statement that he applied emergency brakes to stop the train, but a mob attacked the train by pelting stones. He then, allegedly, sped off for the safety of his passengers. But now, local councillor Shailender Singh Shally has claimed the train did not slow down at all.

NDTV quoted Shally as saying, "It seemed as if the driver wanted to run over us. The train passed us in a matter of seconds. Would it have been logically possible for us to throw stones at the train when we were in such a state of shock, when there were so many people lying dead and injured around us? The driver is lying."

Witnesses have also said that they did not hear a horn or see a light that would have warned them of the approaching train.

The Indian Express reported that several videos doing the rounds of social media also corroborate eyewitness accounts.

Driver blames mob

The driver of the DMU train was quoted by The Indian Express as saying, "Suddenly I saw a crowd of people near the track. I constantly sounded the horn as I immediately applied the emergency brake. Despite applying emergency brake, some people were run over by the train. The train was almost coming to a halt when a very large crowd started attacking the train by throwing stones. Considering the safety of my passengers, I proceeded with the train."