Amritsar train tragedy: Police files FIR against unknown persons; Dussehra event organiser, Saurabh Madan, goes missing

New Delhi/Amritsar: The Punjab government on Saturday ordered a magisterial probe into the accident near Amritsar where 59 Dussehra revellers were mowed down by a train, while railways has ruled out any inquiry on its part. Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh Saturday said that a magisterial inquiry into the train accident will be conducted and the report will be submitted in four weeks. The chief minister postponed a trip to Israel and arrived in Amritsar this morning to assess the damage. "We are announcing a magisterial probe into the incident," Singh told reporters.

Police and volunteers in Amritsar carry a victim from the site of the train accident. PTI

Police and volunteers in Amritsar carry a victim from the site of the train accident. PTI

He said four weeks have been given to submit the report to find out who was at fault. The divisional commissioner of Jalandhar, Baldeo Purushartha, has been entrusted with the job of holding the inquiry. Later, issuing a notification of the magisterial inquiry, Punjab Home Department said in a statement that the inquiry will look into all aspects of the unfortunate incident. Purushartha has been appointed special executive magistrate under the provision of Section 21 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and shall exercise all such powers conferred upon an executive magistrate while conducting the enquiry, a notification issued by Additional Chief Secretary Home Nirmaljit Singh Kalsi. The notification also lists the terms and reference of the inquiry.

The inquiry has been authorised "to conduct a thorough probe into the unfortunate incident and to examine acts of omission and commission by an individual or agency if any, and accordingly fix responsibility." It has also been asked "to suggest remedial measures to ensure that such unfortunate incident do not reoccur," the statement said. Meanwhile, railways on Saturday said that the tragedy was a case of trespassing and not a railway accident and ruled out a probe by the Commissioner Railway Safety.  The Commission of Railway Safety works under the administrative control of the Ministry of Civil Aviation and conducts a mandatory inquiry into all railway accidents - at unmanned level crossings, derailments or after a bridge collapse.

"The Commission conducts a statutory investigation into railway accidents. This was an incident where people were trespassing on the tracks and not an accident," Railway Board chairman Ashwani Lohani told PTI. Railways also said that no action will be taken against the driver of the train who had managed to slow down the train to around 68 kmph from the speed of 91kmph at which he was assigned to run. "The incident was not the railways' fault. There was no lapse on our part and no action against the driver will be initiated," Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha said on Saturday. "People should refrain from organising such events near the tracks in future. I think if precautions had been taken, the accident could have been averted," he said, adding wherever such events are held, the district administration gives the permission.

An FIR was lodged against unknown persons, officials said as locals asserted that effigy burning had been going on at the spot for at least 20 years.  The organiser of Friday's event, Saurabh Madan, who is also the president of Dussehra Committee (East) and husband of Congress Councillor Vijay Madan, is missing. Meanwhile, the Amritsar police said though they had given a "no objection" certificate for the Dussehra celebrations, the organisers did not take permission from the municipal corporation and the pollution department.

According to the permission document, the organisers were given the go-ahead following their assurance that they would follow the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on the usage of loudspeakers. They had also assured that traffic movement would not be disrupted and nobody would carry any weapon at the event, it said. "Nobody had applied for the permission with the Amritsar Municipal Corporation," AMC commissioner Sonali Giri said.


Updated Date: Oct 21, 2018 08:08 AM

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