Amritsar: Under fire for culpability in the Amritsar train tragedy that claimed the lives of over 60 people, Navjot Kaur Sidhu, the wife of Punjab minister and Amritsar East MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu, kept changing her stand to deflect blame.

A DMU train had ploughed full-throttle into a crowd of people who had come to see Ravana Dahan on Dussehra on Friday evening in Amritsar’s Dhobhi Ghat and had spilled onto the live track.

Initially, Kaur said she had left the venue just before the accident. She claimed that she got to know about the mishap on a call about 15 minutes after she had left the venue. “The effigy of Ravana was burnt and I had just left the site when the incident happened,” she said.

Later onlookers claimed that Kaur left the venue after the accident had taken place. They said she left without helping the injured and their families. Kaur later visited the injured in an Amritsar hospital.

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She had gone on to blame the railway authorities for not issuing directions regarding the movement of trains near the tracks. She said the trains should have slowed down looking at the gathering.  “We burnt the Ravan effigies at six places today. Most of them were near the railway track. They (railway authorities) should have at least issued directions to slow down the speed of the train. Such a big mistake,” Kaur told a media channel from the hospital.

When accused of negligence and not taking prior permission for the event, Kaur said there were many vacant seats at Dhobi Ghat ground. “Ravan was tied securely and there were no chances of it falling down and creating chaos. There was no stampede. Announcements were made 4-5 times asking people to come inside Dhobi Ghat ground. But they climbed up the tracks leading to such a huge mishap,” Kaur said.

She justified the event saying, “Celebration takes place here each year. Did we make anyone sit on the track? Or did we pull the train over the people? They are people from our locality. We are working hard to identify each person. The people involving politics into this should be ashamed of themselves.  I think Captain has announced Rs 5 lakh each in ex gratia.”

The train was en route to Amritsar from Jalandhar when the incident occurred at Joda Phatak where at least 300 people were watching 'Ravana dahan' at a ground near the tracks.