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Posted at: Oct 9, 2019, 7:03 AM; last updated: Oct 9, 2019, 7:08 AM (IST)

Year later, train tragedy scars still fresh

GS Paul

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 8

Dasehra this year was indeed a painful commemoration for the family members of the persons killed in last year’s train tragedy at Joda Phatak near Golden Avenue in Amritsar.

At least 59 people were killed on the spot and 70 others were grievously injured when a DMU train mowed down the crowd watching the Dasehra festivities from a nearby railway track on October 19, 2018.

On Tuesday, the kin of the victims assembled at the same railway track and staged a protest to wake up the authorities who failed to fulfil their commitment of providing support and financial assistance to them post the tragedy.

Meanwhile, heavy police force was deputed along the track, which prevented them from disrupting the rail route. The protesters, however, sat alongside the Joda Phatak and vented out their anger against the government.

Inconsolable Sanjeev Kumar, who lost his nephew Tarun Makkan, said, “Had the same police force been deputed last year, the tragedy would not have happened?”

A few days ago, several families had staged a protest outside Navjot Singh Sidhu’s house, demanding him to fulfil the promises he made. Lately, they took out a candle march too.

Amritsar (East) MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu, then holding the Local Bodies Ministry charge, had announced to adopt the aggrieved family members who lost their breadwinners by giving Rs 8,000 per household every month and volunteered to help their children get education and absorb the next of the victims’ kin in the civic wing, but to no avail. His wife Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu, a former lawmaker, was incidentally the chief guest of that catastrophic Dasehra event.

Lovely, who lost her 18-year-old son Tarun, said: “He was the only breadwinner. Sidhu saheb visited our house and assured job for my other son, but to no avail. Now, Sidhu and his wife have gone to the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine. How can they find solace by hurting our souls?”

Another elderly woman Swarn Kaur lost her 32-year-old son Dalbir Singh, who played the role of Ravana in the Ramlila. “My son saved the lives of at least 15 persons by pulling them off the rail track, but end up sacrificing his own.”

A year later, no accountability has been fixed by any authority — be it the Railways, state or Central governments — though separate inquiries were conducted, which ended up as a farce exercise.

The Centre and the state government had granted Rs 2 lakh and Rs 5 lakh, respectively, to the kin of those who died in the accident. Moreover, Capt Amarinder’s one-month probe hasn’t revealed any outcome to date.

AAP to move HC for justice 

"The CM had promised a time-bound inquiry into the case, but instead of revealing the truth, the government has been trying to protect the culprits. We’ll approach the High Court for justice to the victims’ kin."  —KS Dhaliwal, AAP Majha zone incharge 

Colossal failure of govt

"It is a slap on the face of the Congress government, which failed to provide justice to the families. The inquiry panel report was submitted to the CM eight months ago. What has prevented him from making it public?"  —Sukhpal Khaira, President, Punjab Ekta Party

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