Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh visited the injured at three hospitals in Amritsar on Saturday, a day after a train mishap during Dussehra celebrations killed 59 people and left 57 injured.
The CM also ordered an immediate release of Rs 3 crore to DC Amritsar for ex gratia payment to the families of the deceased.
Singh said that his government will ensure that the victims and their families get all the support they need to tackle with the tragedy.
With Navjot Singh Sidhu and other ministers accompanying him, the CM checked on the injured at Amandeep Hospital, Civil Hospital and Guru Nanak Dev Hospital. He directed the doctors to provide the best possible medical treatment to the injured.
At a press briefing at Government Medical College, the CM said that he is ordering a magisterial inquiry into the incident under the police commissioner who will submit a report within four weeks.
“Fifty-nine people have been killed and 57 were injured in the incident. We will try that post-mortem of the bodies are done as soon as possible. We have identified most of the bodies except 9, which I hope will be done soon,” the CM said.
“When a tragedy occurs the entire administration gets involved. We have come here as soon as we could come. Today, the entire cabinet of Punjab is here,” he added.
“The Government of India and the Indian Railways are doing their own enquiry. We will do our own,” Singh said, clarifying that the four weeks time is for reaching a conclusion and not just to find out who gave the permission.
The CM also defended his Cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu for his “kudrat ka prakop” remark on the accident. Singh said that Sidhu, like everyone else, was extremely distressed with the deaths and “may have said in a different way but didn’t mean different to what we are saying”.
“Everyone is aggrieved (with the deaths),” Singh said.
The CM, who arrived in Amritsar today, was briefed by the district officials and the crises management team about the train accident and the relief operations at the airport before he headed for the hospitals.
Navjot Singh Sidhu defends wife
Earlier today, Sidhu said that the train running over Dussehra revellers in Amritsar was an accident and that nobody had done it intentionally.
“It was an unfortunate incident. I talked to a few people who told me that some people were standing on the rail track and some were sitting on a stone near the track,” the minister said.
Speaking to a private news channel, Sidhu expressed grief adding that the accident was “kudrat ka prakop (nature’s fury)”.
“When effigy of Ravana was lit, some people retreated back. Then the train came with a great speed and there was no horn and people did not come to know (about the approaching train) and it happened in a matter of just one or two seconds,” he said.
He also defended his wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu, who was accused of leaving the accident site without bothering about the victims.
The Punjab minister said that his wife was attending to patients at the hospital when allegations were being levelled against her.
“When I talked to my wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu on Friday, she was in a hospital,” he said.
Sidhu said when he learnt about the accident, he was shocked. He added that he was away to Calicut for a function on Friday.
Refusing to point fingers, the minister said, “Nobody has done it deliberately. However, there is a big negligence (behind this incident)…when I talk about negligence, some people did not even understand their responsibility”.
“Nobody had any intention to do this. There was no motive,” he said, adding the incident was an irreparable loss.
He also requested not to give the incident a “political shape”.
On Friday evening, many Dussehra revellers who were watching the burning of Ravana effigy from railway tracks were run over by a train coming from Jalandhar at Joda Phatak near Amritsar.
Immediately after the incident, people raised slogans against Navjot Kaur Sidhu, who was present as chief guest during the event, alleging she left the venue after the accident.
Navjot Kaur Sidhu, however, said she had left the place before the accident took place and rushed to the hospital the moment she came to know of it.
“The effigy of Ravan was burnt and I had just left the site when the incident happened. Priority is to get the injured treated. Dussehra celebrations are held there every year. People who are doing politics over this incident should be ashamed,” she said.