2018 AMRITSAR DUSSEHRA TRAIN TRAGEDY: Now, judicial probe indicts two serving, 3 former MC officials
Retired additional sessions judge recommends punitive action against the five who have been summoned to present their side; earlier, they were indicted and chargesheeted in departmental and magisterial inquiriesUpdated: Jul 03, 2020 23:39 IST
Two serving and three former Amritsar municipal corporation (MC) officials, who were chargesheeted in a departmental inquiry besides being indicted in a magisterial probe in the 2018 Amritsar Dussehra train tragedy, have now been indicted in the judicial inquiry report.
The inquiry officer, a retired additional district and sessions judge, submitted the report to the department of local bodies and recommended punitive action against the five.
Sixty one persons were killed at the Jaura Phatak railway crossing during a Dussehra function.
The officials are estate officer Sushant Bhatia, superintendent Pushpinder Singh besides now retired additional divisional fire officer Kashmir Singh, superintendent Garish Kumar and inspector Kewal Krishan.
After finding the replies of the five over the chargsheet against them unsatisfactory in the departmental inquiry, the inquiry was assigned to retired additional district and sessions judge Amarjit Singh Katari.
MC commissioner Komal Mittal said, “Now, the senior local bodies department officials have summoned the five to Chandigarh. The government will take a decision on punishing or acquitting these officials only after that.”
The department on June 30 wrote to the five giving them 15 days to present their side.
“There is ground for punishment on the basis the accusations proved by the inquiry officer against you. If you want to say something in self-defence, send it in written within 15 days, failing which it would be considered you have nothing to say,” reads the department’s letter.
The magisterial probe that indicted the five was conducted by the then Jalandhar divisional commissioner B Purushartha. After a prolonged inaction in the case, the probe report was made public by the Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO), an NGO, in December last year.
In the probe, Purushartha had concluded that Kashmir Singh provided a fire tender and a water tanker without the MC’s permission while Bhatia and Krishan failed to ensure that no function was organised in the area without due approval. Also, the then superintendents of the MC’s advertisement branch Pushpinder and Girish were held responsible as posters and banners of the event were put up without any nod.
PHRO investigator Sarbjit Singh Verka said, “It is good that the proceedings are going on against officials of the MC and police. But unfortunately, no proceedings have been initiated against the politicians responsible for the tragedy.”
Local Congress leader Sourabh Madaan Mitthoo, who is considered as close to Congress MLA and former minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, was the main organiser of the Dussehra function.