The Amritsar police on Friday said they had given permission for the Dussehra celebration at the Dhobi Ghat ground near Jaura Phatak crossing, but the organisers did not take the other required permission from the Municipal Corporation, the Health and the Fire Departments.
Amritsar Police Commissioner S S Srivastava said: “The event was organised by Mithu Madan’s family.” Mithu’s mother, Vijay Madan, is a Congress councillor in the area. Amritsar Deputy Commissioner K S Sangha said that “police commissionerate could tell about the permission”, while Srivastava added, “Police had given permission for the event.” Follow Amritsar train accident LIVE UPDATES here.
The ground where Ravan’s effigy was burnt is a Municipal Corporation ground. Amritsar Municipal Commissioner Sonali Giri told The Indian Express, “There was no permission sought from MC and no permission was given from our side.”
The Dussehra celebration is held every year at the ground. While Navjot Kaur Sindhu, wife of the Amritsar East MLA and Cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, was the chief guest at the event this year, Mandeep Singh Manna, an Amritsar politician who was earlier associated with the Congress, said he had also led the event in earlier years. “It is a vulnerable site. Verbally we had been requesting railways to ensure caution and they would agree. The trains would pass at a speed of some 5 km per hour earlier,” Manna said.
He said the effigy should have been set on fire some minutes earlier, but was delayed because of the late arrival of Navjot Kaur Sidhu. It was dark, and people did not see the train approaching, nor could they hear it because of the fireworks.
Amritsar Mayor Karamjit Singh Rintu said there was “negligence on part of the railways and the train’s driver as he failed to spot the crowd on the railway track”.
The Mayor added: “The district administration and police were to be approached for necessary permissions for holding such event.”