Amritsar train tragedy: 86% of the Dussehra events in the city flunked clearances

New Delhi: Out of a total of 29 Dussehra events held in Amritsar on October 19, 25 did not have the mandatory clearance from the city’s municipal corporation, including the one at Dhobi Ghat in which 61 people were killed by a passing train.

In an Indian Express report, Sushant Bhatia, Estate Officer, MCA revealed that only four such functions at — at Chheharta, Bhadar Kali, Focal Point and Haripura — had the required compliance from the corporation. According to MCA norms, a clearance from the Estate Officer is mandatory for such events.

Also read: Railways tracks are Dussehra grounds in many Punjab cities

”We will take action against all Dussehra committees that organised these events without the approval of the MCA, including the organisers of the Dhobi Ghat function,” Municipal Corporation Amritsar (MCA) commissioner Sonali Giri was quoted as saying in a media report.

Following the tragedy, the local officials and police have engaged in blame game on how these events were permitted to take place without the requisite clearance.

As per officials, Dussehra committees need to obtain approvals from the MCA, police and the departments of Public Works and Health, which thereafter, requires a “final permission” from the district magistrate granting

However, Amritsar Deputy Commissioner Kamaldeep Singh Sangha has said that that the district administration had “no role” to play in such cases where the police have “final authority”.

Also read: 86% of the Dussehra events in Amritsar flunked clearances

“Amritsar has a police commissionerate system and the police are supposed to give all the permissions. The police commissioner even has the right to impose Section 144. In the absence of a commissionerate system, the responsibility is with the civil administration. Even arms licenses are issued by the police commissioner and not the DC. So we had no role in giving permissions for the Dhobi Ghat event or any Dussehra event,” Sangha added.

When contacted, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Amritsar), Amrik Singh, said, “I will have to check if the power to grant final permission is with Amritsar Police.”

According to officials, the organisers received a NOC from police based on the condition that the Punjab and Haryana High Court’s order banning loudspeakers and arms at such venues would be complied with.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Sourab Mithu Madan who, police say, was the main organiser of the event claimed in a video shot at an undisclosed location that he had all the clearances required to organise the function. Madan, who is absconding, described the incident at Dhobi Ghat as a “natural disaster”.

“We had all the permissions for the function within the boundary line of Dhobi Ghat. There was a cordon of 25 feet around the effigy of Ravana for safety. We didn’t leave any stone unturned. There were 50-100 police officials present. The MCA had sent a fire tender and a water tanker. Our programme was inside the boundary wall of Dhobi Ghat. The railway track was not included in our functional area,” Madan claimed in the video.