Punjab CM Amarinder Singh takes stock of relief work; orders magisterial probe

Amritsar, Oct 20 (PTI) Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Saturday ordered a magisterial probe into the Amritsar train accident after visiting injured and kin of those killed in the tragedy even as he urged the Opposition not to politicise the issue.

The chief minister postponed a trip to Israel and arrived here this morning to assess the damage.

"We are announcing a magisterial probe into the incident," Singh said while talking to media here.

He said four weeks have been given to submit the report to find out who was at fault. The divisional commissioner of Jalandhar has been entrusted with the job of holding the inquiry, he said.

At least 59 people were killed Friday evening after a crowd of Dussehra revellers that had spilled on to railway tracks while watching the burning of a Ravana effigy was run over by a train near Joda Phatak here.

At least 300 people were watching the 'Ravana dahan' at a ground adjacent to the tracks.

Singh visited the injured in Amandeep Hospital, Civil Hospital and Guru Nanak Dev Hospital Saturday, where he met the injured and directed the doctors to provide them best possible medical treatment.

He expressed grief at the incident and extended his government's full support to the victims and their families. He observed that two little girls he met at a hospital had lost their entire families in the tragedy, which the whole nation was mourning.

He said this was not the time to play political games on the issue and urged the opposition parties to join hands with the government in providing relief work to the victims.

He said compensation of Rs 5 lakh each for the families of the deceased had already been announced by the state government. Besides, the government would bear the cost of medical treatments of the injured admitted to different hospitals, he told reporters.

Fifty-nine people were killed and 57 injured in the accident, he said, adding except nine, most of the bodies have been identified.

The chief minister said he was at Delhi airport to leave for Tel Aviv when he heard of the tragic incident. He said he had to rush back after postponing his Israel visit.

He said he wanted to visit Amritsar Thursday night itself, but was advised against it by the district authorities who did not want a VIP movement to divert attention from the urgent rescue and relief efforts needed at that hour. ? ? ??

After landing at the Amritsar airport this morning, Singh reached the accident site. He met senior officials and members of a crisis management group to take stock of the relief work.

He was accompanied by Health Minister Brahm Mohindra, Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, Education Minister O P Soni, Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar, among others.

Top police officials have also been asked to stay in Amritsar to provide immediate assistance.
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