Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu has declared that he will adopt the families of those who died in the Amritsar train tragedy. Making the announcement at a press conference, Sidhu said, “I will take care of them for the rest of my life”.
Sidhu has been in the line of fire since the incident, which claimed at least 60 lives, as the event where the mishap occurred was attended by his wife Navjot Kaur.
Dismissing attacks on his wife, Sidhu has questioned the role of the Centre after the incident, asking why the driver was given a clean chit within six hours of the mishap, wherein a train ran over a crowd of people watching Ravana dahan in Amritsar.
“Railway engine, police, guards, tracks belong to Centre and FIR also has been lodged by the Centre. The driver was given a clean chit within 6 hours. Why has his name not been revealed? Is it possible that a train is approaching and the guards can't see it?” the cricketer-turned-politician had said.
The driver of the train had earlier claimed innocence, saying he did apply the emergency brake but people started pelting stones and hence he had decided against stopping the train for the “safety of the passengers”.
He had said, “I saw a crowd of people around the track. I immediately applied emergency brakes while continuously blowing the horn. Still, some people came under it. The train was about to stop when people started pelting stones, so I started the train for the safety of the passengers.”
His claims were, however, rubbished by eyewitnesses, who claimed that the driver did not try to slow down the train.
“I was at the spot. Leave alone stopping, the train did not even slow down. It seemed as if the driver wanted to mow us down. The train passed us in a matter of seconds. Is it logically possible for us to pelt stones at the train when so many people were dead and injured around us? Is it possible for us to get our bearings after such an incident and pelt stones at a speeding train? The driver is lying,” claimed Shailender Singh Shally, Councillor, Ward Number 46, Amritsar.