New Delhi, Oct 21 (PTI) The Congress Sunday questioned the railways over its decision not to initiate a probe into the Amritsar train accident, in which 59 Dussehra revellers lost their lives Friday, even as the Railway Board chairman maintained the ministry’s stand of calling a “spade a spade”. Also Read - Chandigarh Lockdown Update: Sunday Lockdown Lifted, Night Curfew To Remain in Force From 10:30 PM to 5:00 AM
At a press conference, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said while his party’s first concern remained the rehabilitation and relief of those injured and those who had lost their loved ones, it was “cruel” of the railways to reject an inquiry into the incident. Also Read - Check Latest COVID-19 Travel Guidelines For Assam, Bihar, Rajasthan, Punjab And West Bengal
“The on-the-spot, instantaneous rejection after a short spot visit by the railway minister (Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha) of even an inquiry sounds extremely cruel to put it mildly. Also Read - Chandigarh Night Curfew Timing Revised. Check New Guidelines Here
“No one is saying the railways or anyone else is at fault. Only an inquiry is being asked for, which will give some idea as to how the accident happened,” he said.
After visiting the site of the accident, Sinha had absolved the railways of all responsibility and ruled out any action against the driver of the train and a probe into the incident.
Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani clearly stated that the incident was a case of “trespassing” and not a “railway accident” and thus, there would be no inquiry by the Commissioner of Railway Safety, who probed rail-related accidents.
In a Facebook post Sunday, Lohani maintained the Indian Railways’ stand on the matter.
“Today we called a spade a spade. If IR is not at fault why beat about the bush. If our staff have done no wrong why hang them. We have to come out of our shells if the organisation has to flourish.
“Decades of infrastructural gap has to be wiped off in years. A no frills culture piloted by fearless men is the only thing that would take the organisation further. In this era of change, change we must for the better of course. And thankfully we are on the right path (sic),” he wrote on the social networking website.
Lohani also defended the railway staffers, saying they were of a “different breed” and if handled well and supported by real men, “they have it in them to change the organisation for the better”.
“May god give us the strength to always stand up for what is right and change what is not,” he said.
Singhvi, however, raised certain questions that the railways as well as the local administration were yet to answer.
“We have been told that these celebrations take place every year. What happened this time? Was the gateman missing? We are told that special warnings are issued every year. Were they issued this year too? Every year, the trains passing through this area at this time are reduced to a crawl, so why did it not happen this year? “These are matters that need to be investigated. How can you reject a probe? It is cruel for those who have lost their loved ones,” he said.
The Congress leader added that the Punjab government’s time-bound magisterial inquiry would reveal all the details and it would be concluded in four weeks.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.