Chandigarh, Oct 23 (IANS) Shiromani Akali Dal patriarch Parkash Singh Badal on Tuesday slammed Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for going on a foreign trip, ignoring the plight of families who lost their kins in the Amritsar train tragedy on October 19.
Badal, a former Chief Minister of the state, termed the accident on Dussehra day "a man-made tragedy of an unprecedented magnitude", and took to task the Congress government for its "shocking and heartless non-seriousness" in responding to the terrible tragedy in which about 60 people lost their lives.
"Nothing symbolises this non-seriousness and indifference more than the decision of the Chief Minister to desert the people in their hour of extreme grief," Badal said here after a SAD-BJP delegation met Punjab Governor V.P. Singh Badnore and sought his intervention to ensure justice to the victims and punishment to the guilty in the Amritsar tragedy.
Amarinder is on a five-day visit to Israel from October 21.
"I find it insensitive and careless beyond belief that the Chief Minister chose to leave his state and his people to their own fate and decided to proceed on an utterly avoidable foreign trip. In his shoes, I would have cancelled the trip," Badal, 90, told reporters here.
On October 19, at least 59 people lost their lives, and 60 others were injured when a train ran through a crowd that had gathered on a railway track to watch 'Ravana' effigies go up in flames on the occasion of Dussehra.
Badal said that the tragedy could have been easily avoided if Navjot Singh Sidhu and his spouse had "displayed even the elementary sense of responsibility by refusing to be associated with an event without appropriate government permission".
Thousands had been taken to the function by the organisers, who enjoy the direct patronage and protection of the Sidhus. The site was highly vulnerable and tragedy-prone, as it lay adjacent to a busy railway line for several long-distance trains, Badal said.
Sidhu has defended his wife and held the railways responsible for the deaths of people standing on the tracks near Joda Phatak in Amritsar.
Badal reiterated his party's demand for an immediate sacking of Sidhu from the Punjab Council of Ministers.