PUNJAB CM REVIEWS SITUATION IN AMRITSAR, VISITS TRAIN TRAGEDY SITE & INJURED IN HOSPITALS

–   ORDERS PROBE BY DIVISIONAL COMMISSIONER JALANDHAR, SETS 4-WEEK DEADLINE FOR REPORT

Punjab Update

Amritsar, October 20: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday set a four-week deadline for completion of inquiry by Divisional Commissioner Jalandhar into the tragic train accident in Amritsar, while urging all political parties to rise above petty politicking to join hands to mitigate the sufferings of the victims and their families.

He was talking to mediapersons after reviewing the situation on the ground and meeting the injured in three hospitals, besides visiting the spot where the tragedy had occurred last evening during Dussehra celebrations.

Captain Amarinder said action will be taken against those responsible for the tragedy once the inquiry report comes. The probe will cover all aspects of the tragedy, he added.

Asked if there were any lapses on the part of the railways, the  Chief Minister said the probe will look into the matter, and will ascertain whether approvals for holding the function were given or not.

However, this was not the time to play political games on the issue, said the Chief Minister, calling upon all to join hands with the government to provide relief to the victims. 

The 3-member Crisis Management Group, headed by Health Minister Brahm Mohindra, will camp in Amritsar as long as they are needed to monitor and assist in the relief operations, said the Chief Minister. The Group, constituted by the Chief Minister last night, has Revenue Minister Sukbinder Singh Sarkaria and Forest Minister, Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, as its members, and is closely monitoring the situation and supervising the relief efforts. Top police officials have also been asked to stay in Amritsar till they are required to ensure that the situation stabilises.

The Chief Minister, who had been closely monitoring the situation through the night and had ordered a high-level team to rush to the site soon after the mishap, said he was at the airport, ready to leave for Tel Aviv, when he heard of the terrible and had to rush back after postponing his Israel visit. Though he had wanted to visit Amritsar last night itself, he was advised against it by the district authorities which did not want a VIP movement to divert attention from the urgent rescue and relief efforts needed at that hour.

As per reports, 59 people had died and 57 had been injured in the incident, said Captain Amarinder, announcing that mourning will continue in Amritsar district till Monday. The national flag will fly at half mast and all educational institutions will remain closed in this period, he added. 

The Chief Minister expressed grief at the tragic incident, extending his government’s full support to the victims and their families. He observed that two little girls he met in the hospital had lost their entire families in the mishap, which the whole nation was mourning.

Earlier, on his arrival at the Amritsar airport this morning, the Chief Minister was briefed by the district officials and the Crisis Management Group on the situation following the accident. The Chief Minister, who was accompanied by Local Government Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and Punjab Congress President Sunil Jakhar, along with his Media Advisor Raveen Thukral and Chief Principal Secretary Suresh Kumar, took detailed inputs from the team and other officials to assess the cause and damage of the incident.

Captain Amarinder later visited the injured in Amandeep Hospital, Civil Hospital Amritsar and Guru Nanak Dev Hospital, where he met the injured and directed the doctors to provide the best possible medical treatment. The state government has already announced free treatment for the injured at all government and private hospitals in the district, besides Rs. 5 lakh as compensation to the families of those killed in the accident that took place during Dussehra celebrations.

Several ministers, MPs and MLAs, along with senior bureaucrats and police officials, were present during the Chief Minister’s visit and apprised him of the work being done to provide relief and assistance to the victims and their kin.

These included Health Minister Brahm Mohindra, Welfare Minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, Transport Minister Aruna Choudhary, Cooperation Minister Sukjinder Singh Randhawa, Revenue Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, Power Minister Gurpreet Singh Kangar, Animal Husbandry Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu and MP Amritsar Gurjit Singh Aujla.

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