The probe report on the Amritsar tragedy has been released and been accepted by the Punjab government. While the report has given clean chit to Navjot Kaur Sidhu, there are multiple issues and unanswered questions with regard to the report. Most importantly, the probe report’s claims regarding the Railways authorities. According to the report, there were two guards posted near the venue and they failed to notify the railways authorities about the gathering on the tracks and failed to dissuade people from climbing on the railway tracks.
The question here is how only two guards could be able to ward off more than 6000 people gathered on the tracks? Wasn’t it the duty of organizers and the government authorities to look into the security procedures and management of the event? The onus was on the organizers to notify the concerned Railways authorities regarding the event which they failed to do. Media reports clearly state that the Dussehra committee had been given a no objection certificate by the local police station. So, the local authorities were aware of the event, the safety hazard associated with the location and even then decided to green light the event. While the probe puts the onus of notification on the Railway guards, this fact has been downplayed. The probe report highlights that “…it combined with the blunders committed on the part of key rail employees and a ripe situation for occurrence of this accident was created.” However, after the tragedy, the Railways officials had made it very clear that the event was an “act of trespassing” and “no permission was given for the event.”
Furthermore, the police had given permission for the event. The organizers had not bothered to notify the concerned railways authorities.
The event was organized by the Congress councilor Vijay Madan’s son Saurabh Madan who disappeared after the tragedy. Locals had protested against the alleged patronage that Sidhu and his wife provided to Madan. The probe report seem to have completely overlooked this fact.
A local politician, on the condition of anonymity, said, “(Saurabh) Meethu and his family share a close relationship with the local bodies, minister and Amritsar East MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu. That’s why the police are reluctant to take action against him.”
Rajiv Sharma Dimpy, a BJP leader, whose wife had contested against Vijay, said Saurabh shouldn’t have fled “like a coward”. He also added that the organizer is at fault and strict action should be taken against Saurabh and other organizers for their mismanagement.
The probe report on Amritsar tragedy further gave a clean chit to Sidhu’s wife who, according to eyewitness accounts, fled the scene immediately. It further said, “She had no role in organizing the event”. The footage and eyewitness clearly proved that she was there, but she didn’t do anything to warn the people about the dangers of standing on the railway tracks.
In a shocking revelation. recently Republic TV carried a report stating that days after the tragedy Navjot Singh Sidhu was seen walking side by side with Mithoo Madan, the organizer of the Dussehra event, at the Wagah border.
The inquiry was conducted by Jalandhar Divisional Commissioner B. Purushartha. The special executive magistrate, appointed by CM of Punjab, stated in his report that the spectators “committed the mistake” of watching the Dussehra event while standing on the railway tracks. “The organizers held this event without any permission and without undertaking required safety and security measures,” the report observed.
Even Punjab Govt. was not sure of what stand to take. Earlier, Punjab minister Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa had confirmed that no permission was sought from the state government. But now his claim stands refuted. Once the police came to know about the event and the request for security arrangements, the local administration, and the Punjab government should have made adequate arrangements to prevent any untoward incident or deny permission altogether citing the location of the event. However, permission was given to the organizers casually. It seems that not only the organizers but the Punjab government had also been negligent leading to this awful tragedy.
It is very clear from the probe report on the Amritsar tragedy that the concerned parties are being given clean chit while the Railways which, as is evident, was not even notified is unnecessarily being dragged into the controversy.