Amritsar train tragedy sparks Political blame game in Punjab

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A tragic train accident in which at least 60 people were killed and several others injured has led to political blame game with the opposition holding Punjab’s Congress government responsible for allowing a Dussehra event near railway tracks and accusing ex-MLA Navjot Kaur Sidhu of running away from the site.

Navjot Kaur Sidhu, wife of Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu was the chief guest at the event and said the accident occurred after she had left.

On Saturday morning, Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu visited Guru Nanak Dev Hospital where the injured are being treated, while speaking to reporters Sidhu said, “It was a sad and an unfortunate incident, few people were on tracks and few were besides the track. The train arrived at the high speed and due to sound of the firecrackers, people on tracks did not notice the train. There is negligence, but it was not intentional or motivated. It was nature’s calamity.”

Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh who reached Amritsar 16 hours after the incident said, “a thorough investigation will be conducted into the train accident and the investigation will include how and why a Ravan effigy was allowed to be burnt by the railway tracks. The Chief Minister issued orders to mobilize all necessary steps to help the district administration tackle the situation.”.

Moreover, Capt. Amarinder Singh directed the chief secretary to deploy administrative officials to ensure that the injured people are hospitalised immediately and announced immediate ex gratia of Rs 5 lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was saddened by the train accident, he expressed deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their loved ones and asked officials to provide immediate assistance required. He also announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh for the family of the dead and Rs 50,000 for the injured.

Union minister and Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal said “There are not enough words to mourn the Amritsar train tragedy that claims so many innocent lives. My deepest condolences to the families who lost their loved ones. The incident needs to be probed as it casts serious question on administration.”

BJP attacked the Congress-led Punjab government over the train accident and said how celebrations were allowed near the railway tracks.

Akali leader Bikram Majithia said he was upset to hear the unfortunate news of the train accident.
“The authorities concerned must be held responsible for the ill-fated accident & strict action should be taken against the guilty police officers and organisers,” he said.

Former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal demanded an inquiry and senior party leader Sukhbir Singh Badal said he was very sad to hear the unfortunate incident.