Navjot Sidhu Exempt From Appearing Before Inquiry On Amritsar Tragedy

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Navjot Singh Sidhu has been given a clean chit over the Amritsar train accident (File Photo)

Amritsar:

Giving a clean chit to Punjab cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, the probe official exempted him from appearing before the magisterial inquiry being conducted into the last month's train tragedy near Joda Phatak in Punjab's Amritsar in which about 60 people were killed.

Jalandhar Divisional Commissioner B Purushartha is conducting the inquiry into the October 19 Amritsar rail tragedy.

Giving a clean chit to Mr Sidhu, Mr Purushartha told reporters in Amritsar that the commission was satisfied by the reply given by the minister in a letter through his wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu and he has been exempted from appearing before the panel.

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On October 31, the inquiry commission had asked the Sidhu couple to appear before it to record their statement.

"Commission is satisfied with the written viewpoint submitted by Sidhu," Mr Purushartha said.

He said Navjot Kaur Sidhu was asked many questions about the train accident and Dussehra function which she had attended as a chief guest.

The Divisional Commissioner said that her replies before the panel were satisfactory.

He, however, said that in future if need arose Ms Kaur could be asked to come again before the commission.

When Navjot Kaur was asked about the absence of her husband, she said that he could not come up due to various political engagements. "At the time of accident he was not in the city but was in Bengaluru," she told reporters.

After the train incident, the opposition had trained guns at Navjot Kaur claiming she ran away from the spot, a charge vehemently denied by the former legislator.

Mr Purushartha said that so far statements of Divisional Manager Northern Railway Ferozpur, Vivek Kumar and Divisional Security officer of Railway, Dayanand, driver and assistant driver of the train have been recorded.

Six other railway employees were also summoned for statement, including Gateman and Railway Protection Force officials, he said, adding that drivers of all the trains who were on duty and moved on the same track when accident occurred on October 19 would also be summoned to gather more evidence.

He assured that person or any official accountable for the train accident would not be spared at any cost.

The commission had also recorded the statements of more than fifty one victims, including their family members.

During investigations, Mr Purushartha had earlier along with senior police officers, including DCP Amrik Singh Powar and Deputy Commissioner Kamaljeet Singh Sangha, had visited the accident spot to verify certain issues on different aspects.

The team had also visited Gateman cabin and noticed the trains speed which were running on the track, officials said.

About 60 people were killed and 57 injured after a crowd of Dussehra revellers that had spilled onto railway tracks while watching burning of Ravana effigy was run over by a train near Joda Phatak in Amritsar.

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