Amritsar (Punjab): Punjab Congress leader Navjot Kaur Sidhu, who was also the chief guest at the Dussehra celebrations on the Dhobi Ghat ground in Amritsar where more than 60 people died after a train ran over the people standing on the tracks, said that several calls were made to the people to come inside the grounds and occupy the empty seats but no one seemed to pay heed.
Speaking to news agency ANI, Sidhu said that Ravan was tied securely and there were no chances of the Ravan effigy falling down. “There were vacant seats at Dhobi Ghat ground. Ravan was tied securely & there were no chances of it falling down & creating chaos. There was no stampede. Announcements were made 4-5 times asking people to come inside Dhobi Ghat ground,” she said.
Earlier in the day, Rajesh Honey, a spokesperson of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), had alleged that Navjot Kaur Sidhu continued to give a speech even when many people were struck down by the train. Rejecting the claims and lashing out at the BJP leader, the Congress leader said that she had left the grounds 15 minutes before the incident took place and came to know about the deaths after returning home.
“I called the Police Commissioner and I asked if I should come back, but he said there was way too much chaos. So I decided that I should at least save the ones who were injured, and take them to the hospital for treatment,” a leading portal quoted Navjot Kaur Sidhu as saying.
Blaming the Indian Railways for not issuing directions regarding the movement of trains near the tracks, she said, “We burnt the Ravana effigies at six places today. Most of them were near the railway track. They (railway authorities) should have at least issued directions to slow down the speed of the train. Such a big mistake.”
“Everything was well organised and there was so much police. I could not understand how this happened. Now we are being told that railway authorities did not even slow down the train and that people were standing on the tracks,” she said.