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Sunday, Nov 17, 2019

Amritsar train tragedy Victims’ kin protest near accident site

As the grieving relatives announced to block rail traffic at the accident site on Tuesday, the police beefed up security on both side of the tracks.

india Updated: Oct 09, 2019 06:26 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
AMRITSAR
The families of  those who were run over by a train during Dussehra celebrations last year stage a protest in Amritsar on Tuesday.
The families of those who were run over by a train during Dussehra celebrations last year stage a protest in Amritsar on Tuesday. (PTI Photo)
         

Family members of those killed in last year’s Amritsar Dussehra tragedy on Tuesday staged a protest against what is termed as the Congress-led state government’s lack of interest in fixing the responsibility for the accident.

On October 19 last year, 61 people were mowed down by a train that hurtled through a festive crowd, which had spilled onto the railways tracks while watching the burning of a Ravana effigy on Dussehra at Dhobi Ghat near Jaura Phatak.

As the grieving relatives announced to block rail traffic at the accident site on Tuesday, the police beefed up security on both side of the tracks.The protesters sat near Jaura Phatak (level crossing), shouting slogans against the government and Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu, who represents Amritsar in the state assembly.

Sidhu’s wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu, a former minister, was the chief guest at the Dussehra function when the tragedy occurred there last year. Sidhu’s aide Sourabh Madaan was the chief organiser of the function.

The family members of the victims, who sat near the accident site remembering their loved ones, were visibly upset as no action was taken against anyone despite three probes conducted to fix the responsibility — one by the Jalandhar divisional commissioner, a magisterial probe and a separate inquiry by additional director general of police (railways).

“The probes were ordered as sheer negligence was found in organising the function. However, no action was taken against anyone yet, neither the job promises made by the government and Sidhu have been fulfilled,” said Deepak Kumar, son of Girender Kumar, who died in the tragedy.

The protesters called of the stir after sub-divisional magistrate Vikas Hira gave them written assurance of meeting their demands by October 22. “We wanted the assurance in writing and we achieved that. However, if our demands are not met, we will resume the stir with the support of opposition parties,” said Deepak Kumar.

Punjab Ekta Party (PEP) president Sukhpal Singh Khaira, who also joined the protesters, demanded that the report of the magisterial probe, ordered by chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, be made public and action be taken against those responsible. The 300-page report was submitted to the Punjab home secretary in November last year.

The report had statements of over 150 people, including railway officials and Navjot Kaur Sidhu, who was the chief guest at the Dussehra event, held close to the railway tracks in Amritsar.

Shiromani Akali Dal leader Talbir Singh Gill and former state Congress secretary Mandeep Singh Manna also joined the protesters.

Expressing solidarity with the kin of the victims, Aam Aadmi Party’s Majha zone president Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal said that the his party would move the high court seeking justice for the families.