Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has directed strict action against the persons found responsible for the Amritsar train tragedy that took place on October 19. The CM’s decision comes after the magisterial probe held the gateman of the railway crossing at Jaura Phatak and the organisers of the Dussehra event accountable for the tragedy.
A train had moved down 61 persons who were gathered at the railway tracks to watch the burning of the Ravan effigy on the auspicious day of the festival.
The magisterial inquiry, headed by the Divisional Commissioner, Jalandhar B Purushartha, conducted the probe on the orders of the CM.
The inquiry termed ‘alarming’ the matter concerning the regulation and supervision of an event at a public place/Government land.
It noted, “Everyone concerned with organization, regulation and supervision of the event under inquiry committed omissions and commissions including dereliction of statutory duties,” adding, “It is true that such omissions/commissions/dereliction of duties have not been done for the first time (but) in this event it combined with the blunders committed on the part of key rail employees and a ripe situation for occurrence of this accident was created”.
The report which has been submitted to the Government was compiled based on interviews with the affected persons as well as officials of the district administration and the railways.
The inquiry report stated that though the victims committed a mistake by watching the event from the tracks, the organisers were equally responsible for hosting the event without permission and without putting in place adequate safety measures.
The report also came down heavily on the police for their failure to enforce the law and also the Municipal Corporation officials for not ensuring safety arrangements despite being aware of the gathering of people at the tracks to witness the people.
The inquiry concluded, “Gateman of Jaura Phatak, Gate No. 27 Mr. Amit Singh has not only failed in discharging his statutory duties but also committed a blunder in not taking appropriate safety and security measures which could have easily prevented this accident. He is one of those key Railway employees whose blunder has resulted into this accident.”
The inquiry report also blamed the gateman of another gate (no:26) for his failure. It said, “It is also evident that Gateman of Railways Level Crossing, Gate No. 26 Mr. Nirmal Singh also failed discharging his statutory duties by his late reaction in informing Gateman of Jaura Phatak, Gate No. 27. He came to know about this gathering on Rail Tracks at around 5.30 p.m., but informed Gateman of Gate No. 27, Mr Amit Singh at around 6.40-6.45 p.m. He did not inform the concerned Station Master and keep giving all right signals to approaching trains. Therefore, he is also responsible for committing this blunder".
“It is also evident that the organisers conducted this event without taking adequate precautions/measures to ensure safety and security of the people gathered to watch Dussehra celebration and Ravan Dahan”, it added.
It further noted, “The organisers neither informed the Railways nor took any precautions and safety measures to stop people from watching the celebrations from Rail Tracks”.
The report stated that the release of alert by the Railways for controlled and alerted plying of the trains and other security measures could have averted the mishap.
It also noted that a 10-12 feet view cutter at the boundary wall separating the ground and the tracks could have avoided the tragedy.
Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and his wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu, who attended the function as a Chief Guest, were also given a clean chit by the inquiry.