On Friday, the nation was left horrified when as many as 60 people were mowed down by a train in Amritsar while a Dussehra event was taking place near the railway tracks. A number of revelations have come to light since the tragic incident, including discrepancies in the statement put out by the chief guest of the function, Navjot Kaur Sidhu, and acceptance of 'negligence' by the state government.
Now, the driver of the train has written a statement, a copy of which has been exclusively accessed by Republic TV. In the statement the driver reveals that as the train approached the location of the event he saw that a number of people had come on to the tracks, at which point he applied the emergency brake. However, the train was moving too fast to come to a stop and ran over them. As the train came to a stop, the driver says people pelted it with stones, and in an effort to keep the passengers inside safe, he started it up again and reached Amritsar station.
The statement comes a day after Republic TV exposed irregularities in the version put out by event chief guest Navjot Kaur Sidhu, wife of Navjot Singh Sidhu who, apart from being a Punjab minister, is also the local MLA. In the aftermath of the tragic accident, Navjot Kaur had stated that she had left the event prior to the incident taking place, and had pinned the blame on the Railways by stating that the horn of the incoming train wasn't blown.
Republic TV accessed three pieces of CCTV footage, between 6.40 pm and 7 pm, which contradicts the claims of Navjot Kaur Sidhu about her whereabouts when the accident took place.
At 6.40 pm, Navjot Kaur Sidhu can be seen entering the event venue with an entourage. Fourteen minutes later, that is at 6.54 pm, Ravan effigy was set on fire. A minute later, the accident takes place, in which the train mows down around 60 people. In the next footage of around the same time as that of the accident, a commotion can be seen at the spot and two minutes later, Navjot Kaur Sidhu can be seen leaving the venue.
In another video from the event, it was revealed that Navjot Kaur knew about the overcrowding. The host of the event, Mittu, could be seen in those videos saying to her that 'let 500 trains pass by, but you will still witness more than 5000 people waiting for you on the tracks'.