A magistrate inquiry into the Amritsar train accident in October has cleared Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and his wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu, News 18 reported 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.
On October 19, a train drove through a crowd standing on the railway tracks at a Dussehra event held on a ground near the tracks in Amritsar. A second train coming from the opposite side ran over those who had jumped out of the way of the first train, killing 62 people.
The 300-page inquiry report cleared Congress leader Sidhu because he was not present in Amritsar on the day of the accident. The report also said his wife, who was invited as a special guest at the event, could not be held responsible for 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.
Responding to the inquiry report, Navjot Kaur Sidhu claimed the allegations against her were attempts to malign the Sidhu family, reported ANI. “If I am called to attend an event and an incident takes place there, then how am I responsible for it?”
The report said that the organiser of the event, Saurabh Madan Mithu, did not have the permission to hold Dusshera celebrations near the railway tracks and the crowd was not managed, reported DNA. Mithu, who is the son of councillor Vijay Madan, had earlier denied responsibility for the accident.
The magistrate report also said that the local administration should have ensured whether security arrangements were adequate. 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.
The report also indicted the Amritsar district administration, the municipal corporation, local police and railway employees for the incident, The Indian Express.
The report will now be submitted to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.
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.