- Navjot Kaur Sidhu was chief guest at Dussehra event near train tracks
- Congress leader fled the scene, party had organised the event: Witnesses
- Ms Sidhu denies charge, says she came to hospital to help out
Punjab Congress leader Navjot Kaur Sidhu has denied allegations that she left a Dussehra event in Amritsar after a speeding train ran over 60 spectators on Friday evening.
Ms Kaur, the chief guest at the event, said it was shameful that certain individuals were politicising the tragic incident. "I heard about the deaths only 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," she added.
Witnesses at the scene of the accident had earlier alleged that the event was held without the permission of the authorities. "I blame the organiser for holding the event without gaining the requisite permission from the administration, and I blame Navjot Kaur Sidhu -- the wife of Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu -- for fleeing the scene after the incident. They have played a very dirty trick on us," one of them had earlier alleged, demanding action against the organisers of the event. He said it was shameful that people who had come to celebrate Dussehra with so much joy had to go back grieving the loss of their loved ones.
Local media identified the organiser of the event as Mithoo Madan, a local councillor affiliated to the Congress.
Ms Kaur, however, said it was wrong to take advantage of such a tragic incident to further one's political interests. "Dussehra festivities are held at this site every year. Are you saying that we asked them to stand on the tracks? Did we run the train over them? All the previous governments -- even the Akali Dal administration -- would hold Dussehra at the same spot. People who are politicising this should be ashamed," she asserted.
The Congress leader, instead, blamed the Railways for the tragedy. "It was paramount that the Railways slow down the train at the site of a large event like this. How could they run their trains at such speed when there were so many people around? Half the people had moved away after listening to my speech. They did not even realise what had happened!" she said.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each for the deceased's kin, and said that he would personally visit the accident site to supervise rescue and relief operations.