Amritsar tragedy: Municipality says no permission was granted for Dussehra event
Amritsar, Oct 20: The Amritsar Municipal Corporation on Saturday said no permission was granted to hold Dussehra celebrations at 'Dhobi ghat' ground in Amritsar. At least 61 people were killed and 72 injured Friday evening after a crowd of Dussehra revellers that had spilled onto railway tracks while watching burning of Ravana effigy was run over by a train near Joda Phatak here.
"Nobody was given the permission for organising the Dussehra event. Moreover, nobody had applied for the permission with the Amritsar Municipal Corporation," Amritsar Municipal Corporation Commissioner Sonali Giri said here.
She said the celebrations were held at the 'Dhobi ghat' ground here. The commissioner said unlike last year, the event was held on a large scale on Friday evening. "Last year, the scale of the function was not as big as it was witnessed on Friday evening,” she said, adding there was also a small temple at the ground.
Navjot Kaur Sidhu, former MLA and wife of Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, was the chief guest of the event. The event was reportedly organised by Saurabh Madan, husband of Congress Councillor Vijay Madan. Posters of Navjot Singh Sidhu, his wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu, councilor Saurbah Madan and his wife Vijay Madan were displayed at the event.
Opposition parties, including the Akali Dal, BJP and AAP have demanded strict action against those who gave permission for holding the event. They have also held the Congress-led Punjab government responsible for allowing the Dussehra celebrations near the railway track. At the time of the tragic incident, at least 300 people were watching 'Ravana dahan' at the ground adjacent to the elevated rail tracks.
As the effigy was lit and the fireworks went off, a section of the crowd started retreating towards the tracks where a large number of people were already standing to watch the event, officials had said. Two trains arrived from the opposite direction at the same time giving little time to people to escape, they said.