Urban development minister Azam Khan on Monday resigned as chairman of the kumbh mela committee owning moral responsibility for the Sunday night tragedy at the Allahabad railway station that left 36 dead and scores of others injured.
He also blamed the railways for the tragedy. “I am taking moral responsibility of the incident which has hurt me deeply. So, despite the fact that I was technically not responsible for management inside the railway station, I have decided to put in my papers as chairman of the kumbh-mela committee,” Khan told the media in Rampur.
He said the railway authorities mismanaged the situation. “Rail vibhaag ki udaseenata hi nahi balki issey hum andekhi bhi keh sakte hai (the railways appeared to be indifferent and negligent).”
Azam also lashed out at a TV channel, which he blamed for carrying a ‘misleading’ report about a stampede early on Sunday. “This was completely wrong,” he said. “Then two people died after falling into a canal, the reason for which isn’t known as yet. However, the shahi snan continued peacefully even after that. But just as the snan got over, this tragedy took place at the railway station,” he said.
The minister also said he was also intimating chief minister Akhilesh Yadav about his decision to quit as chairman of the kumbh mela committee.
In his letter to the CM, Khan said he was discharging his duties in exactly the same manner as he had done during the ardh kumbh when SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav was the CM.
“It’s my great misfortune that despite best of efforts, the incident, over which none of us could have had any control, occurred. The railway station didn’t fall under my jurisdiction either. The fact that over 3 crore people took a dip in the Ganga peacefully was basically due to the cooperation of officials and employees tasked with kumbhduty,” Khan said.
He added: “I have always tried to discharge my duties to the best of my ability and have never shied away from my responsibilities. I wasn’t perturbed even when adverse remarks were passed against me. But this time I have decided to heed the voice of my conscience and resign.”