Amritsar train tragedy: SAD demands probe by sitting HC judge
Amritsar, Oct 25: Senior Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Bikram Singh Majithia Thursday dismissed the magisterial probe ordered by the state government into the Amritsar train tragedy and demanded an inquiry by a sitting high court judge.
He described the magisterial probe as an "eyewash" and said it was aimed at giving a "clean chit" to Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and his wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu. Majithia, along with members of the SAD and the BJP, visited the Amritsar Improvement Trust (AIT) office here. Statements of the eyewitnesses and other persons having any information about the accident are being recorded at the AIT office.
Majithia alleged that the inquiry into the accident will not be fair as the AIT reports to Sidhu, who is the local bodies minister. He claimed the victims' families were unaware that a public hearing was being held at the AIT office.
"The inquiry commission did not deem fit to advertise the hearing details to ensure the victims depose before it as it only wanted to entertain tutored witnesses," he alleged. Majithia said doors were bolted to keep those out who came to the office to record their statements. He alleged the victims' families were being asked to sign affidavits stating that organiser Saurabh Madan and Navjot Kaur Sidhu, who was the chief guest at the ill-fated event, were not responsible for the train tragedy.
"The victims' families are also being pressurised not to name any Congress functionary before the inquiry commission," he said. "Only an inquiry by a sitting high court judge can give justice to the victims' families," he added. The Akali leader demanded that the event organisers, Sidhu and his wife be booked in connection with the accident. He also demanded a compensation of Rs one crore and a government job for the victims' families. Members of the SAD and the BJP also held a protest near the train accident site.
Meanwhile, Sidhu said monetary compensation has been given to families of 41 victims and the others will also get it soon. On October 19, a train mowed down nearly 60 Dussehra revellers who had spilled onto railway tracks while watching the burning of a Ravana effigy at 'Dhobi ghat' ground here near Joda Phatak.
Sidhu reiterated that the Punjab government is fully committed to provide assistance to the families of the victims and lauded the district administration for speedy disbursal of compensation. He said those indulging in petty politics over the tragic incident should shun their "destructive" approach and help the victims' families in every possible way.