Punjab tourism minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Sunday visited hospitals and met with those injured in Friday’s train accident when 59 Dussehra revellers were killed at Jora Phatak near Amritsar.
At civil hospital in Amritsar, Vicky Sanotra, who lost his son Vasu Sanotra, 17, questioned Sidhu if he would accompany him to register an FIR against the local Congress councillor, who was the main organiser of the Dussehra event. Sidhu replied, “Bhai, iss baare mein hum baithkar baat karenge (Brother, we will sit and talk about this later).”
Sidhu is facing flak from the BJP and SAD over the incident as his wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu was the chief guest at the Dussehra celebration at Jora Phatak in Dhobi Ghat area. SAD demanded immediate sacking of Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and registration of a murder case against his wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu was who the chief guest at the event as well as the event organisers.
SAD has also demanded for a judicial probe into the incident in the Punjab and Haryana Court. On the Opposition demand for his resignation, Sidhu said: “Anything else, anything else, anything else… No comments.”
In a video that has gone viral on social media, a stage manager was seen boasting to Navjot Kaur about 5,000 people standing on the railway tracks. Reacting to video, the couple told The Sunday Express separately that announcements were repeatedly made at the Dhobi Ghat Dussehra celebration asking people to beware of passing trains.
Navjot Kaur said that she is finding out if the organisers had taken the requisite permission for the event or not. Navjot Singh Sidhu, the MLA from Amritsar East, in which Dhobi Ghat ground is located, was not present at the function. He was away in Kozhikode.
Slamming the Indian railways, Navjot Singh questioned as to why the loco-pilot of the train was given a ‘clean chit’ in one day of the incident. “What sort of commission did you set up that you gave a clean chit to him (loco-pilot) in one day. Either the driver was permanent or he was engaged for one day. Why do not, you say?” said Sidhu.
Meanwhile, police said that permission was given for events at 20 places in Dhobi Ghat. “We gave permission for a certain event in a certain area, now obviously there is no permission to be on the tracks or anything. Lapses are under inquiry. We had security for the whole city including the main venue and the function venue,” SS Shrivastava, Commissioner of Police, Amritsar was quoted as saying by ANI.
Earlier in the day, protesting locals clashed with police and resorted to stone pelting when they were removed from the tracks. The protestors raised slogans against the state government and demanded Sidhu to resign as minister.
Meanwhile, services on the railway track at Jora Phatak resumed 40 hours after the horrific accident. According to a Railway spokesperson, they got clearance to operate on the section at 12.30 pm and First goods train started from Manawala to Amritsar at 1416 hours. Senior Divisional Security Commissioner (Railways), Firozpur Division, S Sudharkar told PTI, “Train services have resumed on the affected rail track (Joda Phatak). A goods train was allowed to run on this track.”
Amid political back and forth over the issue, state chief minister Amarinder Singh is scheduled to attend meetings in Israel on Monday to sign three MOUs. He was scheduled to visit Israel on Oct 19 but the visit was canceled in wake of the train tragedy.