Sikh24.com – Dal Khalsa admonishes Indian Army Chief for beating drum of law & order problem in Panjab

Sikh24 Editors

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 16 November 2018. Joining issue with Indian army chief Bipin Rawat regarding his statement on “attempts” to revive insurgency in Punjab through “external linkages”, the Dal Khalsa said the army chief has overlooked Maur Bomb Blast terror case that has internal linkages having roots in Sirsa cult.

Dal Khalsa’s spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh in an interview to a news agency said the people of Punjab are sure that the footprints of Maur blast will reach to Delhi via Sirsa. “Police under Sukhbir Badal, the then Home Minister, blamed militants for the terror act, which turned out to be a farce”.

Contesting Indian army chief’s statement that “it would be too late” if India does not act soon to stop the attempts to revive terrorism in Punjab, the pro-freedom group leader categorically stated that there’s no terrorism in Punjab.

New Delhi has always wrongly portrayed Punjab problem as a law and order where as its political conflict between Punjab and India that requires peaceful political resolution.

“The only attempts that are being made in Punjab is to secure and protect basic fundamental rights of the peoples including the right to self determination upheld and safeguarded as per the UN charter to which India is a signatory”, said he and added that other than that it’s the figment of imagination of the security establishment, who always thrive on upping the ante for their own legitimacy and survival.

Which law of India allows the army chief to issue threats to the peace-loving people of Punjab? Why should the people of Punjab be made scapegoats of India’s war mongering with Pakistan?

Exposing the double standards of the Indian government, he said when the Pakistan army chief speaks on political and foreign policy matters, India cries foul, but on the other side, the present dispensation under Narendra Modi is allowing its own army chief to issue political statements whether it relates to Punjab, Kashmir or Assam.

On army chief blaming Sikhs For Justice for trying to destabilize the peace in the region, he said this is a loaded question, straight from the archives of the government.

We don’t hold any brief for Sikhs for Justice. However, we strongly condemn the illegal arrest of the activists who were peacefully putting up posters for referendum.

The Indian court’s judgement allowing peaceful propagation of any political movement upholds the right to speak and put up posters for self determination and even for a separate Sikh state.

While we disagree with their methodology and daily utterances, yet the SFJ has a democratic right to talk about a referendum. Talking about a referendum in a democratic manner is not an anti-India move but a pro-people and pro-rights movement.

We reiterate that SFJ’s referendum is a democratic exercise to know the will of people of Punjab whether they aspire to become independent from India, whereas, the real referendum would be held in Punjab either under the aegis of UN or with the consent of New Delhi.

So we take exception that under the garb of referendum issue, Indian army chief has issued veiled threat to Sikhs.

https://www.sikh24.com/2018/11/16/dal-khalsa-admonishes-indian-army-chief-for-beating-drum-of-law-order-problem-in-punjab/#.W_EYZuJRfIU

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The Tribune – Amritsar tragedy: SIT questions 14 drivers and guards of Northern Zone of Railways

Neeraj Bagga, Tribune News Service

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 14 November 2018. A four-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Government Railway Police (GRP) on Wednesday questioned 14 drivers and guards of the Northern Zone of the Railways as a part of its enquiry into the tragic train accident which claimed 59 lives on October 19.

The SIT, headed by Assistant Inspector General (GRP) Daljit Singh Rana, DSP Surinder Kumar, Inspector Nirmal Singh and Inspector Dharminder Kalyan, quizzed railway employees.

It came out in the probe that the Railways had issued a direction of caution to all the trains plying between Manawala railway station and Amritsar railway station after a body was noticed close to Joda Phatak on that day.

The caution order had been issued from the Beas railway station at about 4.20 pm. The instruction may have been removed after lifting of the body from the site.

Sources stated that the drivers and guards of four trains other than the DMU, which killed the Dasehra revellers, which had crossed Joda Phatak before the DMU were quizzed. These trains were Howrah Mail, Chattisgarh, Dadar and Superfast Amritsar to Chandigarh.

SHO GRP Amritsar railway station Balvir Singh Ghuman said the GRP had registered a case under Sections 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 304A (causing death by negligence) and 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) of the IPC, against unknown persons in connection with the train tragedy on October 20.

He said the names could only be incorporated in the FIR as per the recommendations of the SIT which has got three months long period.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/amritsar-tragedy-sit-questions-14-drivers-and-guards-of-northern-zone-of-railways/682991.html

Scroll.in – Jallianwala Bagh massacre: How Colonel Dyer exploited the planned gathering as a ‘gift of fortune’

In a new book, Kishwar Desai writes about how the residents of Amritsar were manipulated and insufficiently warned before the massacre in 1919.

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 12 November 2018. Since April 13 was a Sunday, many of the shops were closed in any case and the hartal was still on. With the constant presence of the army on the streets, few people would have been out in the morning.

However, at 9.30 am, Dyer decided to make two proclamations, neither of which was likely to have been heard. The Naib Tehsildar who was making the proclamations said he had halted at around 19 places where anywhere between 100 to 500 people had gathered.

Most of them, he said, were jeering, and it was doubtful if anyone grasped the importance of his words. He also mentioned that there were announcements of the Jallianwala Bagh meeting taking place simultaneously, or at least discussions about it.

There are also reports of people staying indoors when Dyer’s entourage passed by. In any case, the terms of the proclamations were unclear, perhaps deliberately so. They were read out to the beat of a drum by the Naib Tehsildar.

The first proclamation said:

The inhabitants of Amritsar are hereby warned that if any property is destroyed or other outrages committed in the vicinity of Amritsar it will be taken that incitement to perform these acts originates from Amritsar City, and such measures will be taken by me to punish the inhabitants of Amritsar according to Military law.

All meetings and gatherings are hereby prohibited and I mean to take action in accordance with Military Laws to forthwith disperse all such assemblies.

It was signed “RE Dyer, Brigadier General, Commanding Jullundur Brigade”.

This was a printed proclamation, as was the first part of the second one. But the final and most crucial part of the second proclamation, which spoke of dispersal by “force of arms”, was only read out.

The first part said:

It is hereby proclaimed to all whom it may concern, that no person residing in the city is permitted or allowed to leave the city in his own private or hired conveyance, or on foot without a pass from one of the following officers:

The Deputy Commissioner

The Superintendent of Police – Mr Rehill

The Deputy Superintendent of Police – Mr Plomer

The Assistant Commissioner – Mr Beckett

Mr Connor, Magistrate

Mr Seymour, Magistrate

Ara Muhammad Hussain, Magistrate

The Police Officer-in-charge of the City Kotwali

This will be a special form and pass

The next part of the proclamation, which was only read out, said:

No person residing in the Amritsar city is permitted to leave his house after 8.00 pm.
Any persons found in the streets after 8.00 pm are liable to be shot.

No procession of any kind is permitted to parade the streets in the city, or any part of the city, or outside of it, at any time. Any such processions or any gathering of four men would be looked upon and treated as an unlawful assembly and dispersed by force of arms, if necessary.

A note by Irving clarified, “I have put in the words ‘if necessary’ in the draft which I was asked to edit in legal language so as to bring it into line with ‘liable to be shot’ in paragraph 2.”

But did the addition of these words really have any preventive impact or was it only to protect Dyer and Irving?

This second (ambiguous) statement was read out in Urdu and Punjabi and it is the addition of the last two words that indicated that some kind of warning would be given before shooting.

The additional information that people would be shot if they were out after 8.00 pm, also made it confusing for most. Many who heard it may have thought that people would only be shot after 8.00 pm if they were still on the streets.

In any case, the proclamation was made at 19 places, none of which were close to Jallianwala Bagh or even the Golden Temple – the most crowded part of the city and an area where even visitors were likely to throng to.

For the residents of Amritsar who wanted to attend, the fact that a respected local elder and barrister, Kanhya Lal, was going to address the assembly meant they could expect to receive some “sound advice”.

Kanhya Lal himself said in his evidence to the Congress Committee: “I heard that some men (who have not been traced up to this time to my knowledge) had on the 13th April, proclaimed that a lecture would be given at Jallianwala Bagh by me.

This led or induced the public to think that I should have given them some sound advice on the situation then existing.”

A boy with a tin can had also gone around announcing that Kanhya Lal would preside over the 4.30 pm meeting at Jallianwala Bagh. He too could not be traced later. Neither could Hans Raj, the person said to have called the meeting, be questioned about the meeting, as he became a government witness in the “Amritsar Conspiracy Case”.

He did not give evidence before the Hunter Committee as he had left for Mesopotamia by then.

Some historians suspect that Hans Raj was used to gather a crowd because Dyer wanted a large number of people to be “punished”.

That the meeting was going to be held at 4.30 pm was confirmed at 1.00 pm to Dyer, who remained at Ram Bagh till at least 4.00 pm, and later said, “I went there as soon as I could. I had to think the matter out. I had to organise my forces and make up my mind as to where I might put my pickets.

I thought I had done enough to make the crowd not meet. If they were going to meet I had to consider the military situation and make up my mind what to do, which took me a certain amount of time.”

The “military situation” meant he must have asked for a map of the area and studied how he could attack the enemy, with maximum impact. He was proud of his technical skills.

Something of what was going through his mind is in his biography, The Life of General Dyer, written by Ian Colvin, in close association with Dyer’s wife, Anne, in 1929. Puzzled about how to attack the “rebels”, he had exulted over the “gift of fortune” when the “rebels” decided to congregate in an open space.

He wanted to take “immediate action” on the Amritsar “mob” which had tasted blood and “began to feel themselves masters of the situation”. He realised that he needed to bring a sizeable crowd together, but how could he do it?

In the narrow streets, among the high houses and mazy lanes and courtyards of the city the rebels had the advantage of position. They could harass him and avoid his blow. Street fighting he knew to be a bloody, perilous, inconclusive business, in which, besides, the innocent were likely to suffer more than the guilty.

Moreover, if the rebels chose their ground cunningly, and made their stand in the neighbourhood of the Golden Temple, there was the added risk of kindling the fanaticism of the Sikhs. Thus he was in this desperate situation: he could not wait and he could not fight.

The fact that the rebels themselves chose to go to an open space, where they could be corralled in was an unexpected “gift of fortune”: something he could only have hoped for and not devised. As his admirer Ian Colvin said, now the enemy was within easy reach of his sword.

“The enemy had committed such another mistake as prompted Cromwell to exclaim at Dunbar: ‘The Lord hath delivered them into my hands.’”

For Dyer, this was not a murderous attack on defenceless, innocent people. For him the people assembled were all guilty; it was a state of war, in which he wanted to teach them a “moral” lesson. He assumed all of those present at Jallianwala Bagh to be guilty without any idea of who they were.

Dyer’s planning was impeccable. He ensured that he conscripted soldiers who were sufficiently removed from Punjab so they were able to shoot without compunction. He deliberately took no British troops, because he wanted no blame to fall on them. He took none of the other commanders, what would have happened if they resisted his orders?

He was thus accompanied by twenty-five Gurkhas and twenty-five Baluchis armed with rifles. These were fierce fighters and the Gurkhas, especially, were incredibly loyal. They had no connections with Punjab, they did not even know the language.

Aware that if the crowd rushed towards him, there might be hand-to-hand combat, he took forty Gurkhas armed only with khukris. He was prepared for a bloodbath. Knowing fully well that they would not fit into the entrance, he took two armoured cars.

This was more for effect and, if things got out of hand, for escape. He also placed pickets all along the routes to the Bagh so people could be shot even if they escaped.

As the Hunter Committee admitted in its report to the British Parliament in 1920, “It appears that General Dyer, as soon as he heard about the contemplated meeting, made up his mind to go there with troops and fire” because they had “defied his authority” by assembling.

The fact that they may have been unaware of his prohibitory orders was not important for him. He wanted to create a “wide impression”.

He said, “If they disobeyed my orders it showed that there was complete defiance of law, that there was something much more serious behind it than I imagined, that therefore these were rebels, and I must not treat them with gloves on. They had come to fight if they defied me, and I was going to teach them a lesson.”

In his defence, British historians have said that he took a very small force and that he was surprised by the crowd that he found, forcing him to react the way he did. This is contrary to the facts.

He had carefully calculated how he would spread the force available to him all around the city and an aircraft flying over the meeting had already conveyed to him the strength of the crowd.

He stationed around fifty men to protect his Ram Bagh base, and also dropped off five pickets of forty each en route to Jallianwala Bagh. It was thus that he was left with “fifty rifles, forty armed Gurkhas and two armoured cars”. But he also had another fifty stationed at the Kotwali, which was not very far from Jallianwala Bagh.

Of course, the people assembling at the Bagh had no inkling of his plan, while he knew about their meeting. The CID, based in the Kotwali, were keeping a close eye on the assembly, as they had been asked to do. They too did not request people to leave, or stop them from going to the Bagh, following the morning proclamation by Dyer.

This would have added to the confidence of the gathering at Jallianwala Bagh, as the police would have watched them assemble and done nothing about it. Some members of the CID and a few police constables were even seen at the gathering, as was normal.

It is also interesting to note that despite the large presence of the army and the discomfort and deprivations they had been subjected to, the people of Amritsar still had faith in the system, in each other and, to a large extent, the British.

They were defiant, but also sombre, after the deaths on April 10, they could not imagine that a peaceful gathering, so close to the Golden Temple, on the festive day of Baisakhi could become a bloodbath.

The events of April 10 were seen as an aberration. The two days of calm that followed had given them false hope, leading them to believe that things had calmed down and they could carry on with their satyagraha.

Excerpted with permission from Jallianwalla Bagh, 1919: The Real Story, Kishwar Desai, Westland.
Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.

https://scroll.in/article/901710/jallianwala-bagh-massacre-how-colonel-dyer-exploited-the-planned-gathering-as-a-gift-of-fortune

Sikh24.com – 1984 Sikh Genocide: Rights and Justice March to be taken out in Amritsar Sahib on November 3

Sikh24 Editors

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 01 November 2018. Blaming the Indian political establishment and justice system for failing the Sikhs from November 1984 massacre to Bargarhi-Behbal Kalan incidents, the Dal Khalsa will organize a ‘Rights & Justice March’ in the city on 03 November.

Addressing the media spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh and general secretary Paramjit Singh Tanda said the march would highlight the violence unleashed on Sikhs, denial of justice to aggrieved community and failure of international community in holding the Indian state accountable for the massacre of Sikhs.

“Even the tainted cops responsible for Behbal Kalan firing incident is enjoying impunity under full political patronage”.

Calling November 1984 a big blot on the image of so-called largest democracy of world, they said it was a state sponsored pogrom that had left deep scars on the psyche of Sikhs. They said lumpen elements in Congress and BJP played tandav with full impunity.

They said the failure of Indian justice system to deliver justice to victims of Delhi massacre in 84 paved the way for Mumbai killings in 92-93, Gujarat pogrom in 2002 and Orissa in 2008.

They made it clear that their community has lost all hopes to get justice from the (Indian) state. Hence, they would knock the doors of the United Nations to nail the perpetrators.

They said the march will begin from Bhandari bridge and culminate at Darbar Sahib where candles will be lit in memory of those who perished in the violence perpetuated by high and mighty of the Congress governing the country at that time.

They rubbished the Rahul Gandhi’s theory that his family and Congress party has nothing to do with the massacre of Sikhs.

Kanwar Pal said ironically India and its politicians want to mute the world. That is not possible. The tide has started to flow in the other direction. He referred the passing of a motion in the Canada’s Ontario state assembly and Pennsylvania in USA calling the mass killings of Sikhs in 1984 as ‘genocide’.

https://www.sikh24.com/2018/11/01/1984-sikh-genocide-rights-and-justice-march-to-be-taken-out-in-amritsar-sahib-on-november-3/#.W9yCFOJRfIU

The Tribune – Lifts opened at entrance to Harmandr Sahib

Tribune News Service

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 31 October 2018. Two lifts were inaugurated in the Harmandr Sahib complex by SGPC chief secretary Dr Roop Singh and junior vice-president Harpal Singh on Wednesday.

These lifts, installed at the entrance, would help devotees reach the ‘parikarma’ and the Central Sikh Museum. Dr Roop Singh said each lift, costing Rs 11 lakh, had a capacity to carry 10 persons at a time and would benefit people who faced difficulty in using the stairs.

Last year, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) had decided to install special lifts to allow easier access to physically challenged devotees to the shrine’s parikarma’.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/lifts-opened-at-entrance-to-golden-temple/676978.html

The Tribune – Disgruntled SAD leaders stay away from party meet

Sukhbir ducks queries on senior Akalis’ resignation

Neeraj Bagga, Tribune News Service

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 27 October 2018. Akali Dal president Sukhbir Badal on Saturday held a meeting with SGPC members and Akali MLAs, but disgruntled party leaders chose to stay away.

To a question on resignation by senior leaders, Sukhbir just said: “They are towering Akali leaders of my father’s age.” He ducked the repeated queries over the matter by repeating the same answer.

On being asked if any attempt was being made to resolve the differences, he stated that they had not resign from the party and were very much part of the Akali Dal.

All Akali leaders of the Majha region, who had aired their resentment by holding a meeting on September 30, abstained from the meeting. They are Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, Ravinder Singh Brahmpura, Manmohan Singh Sathiala, Amarpal Singh Bonny and Sewa Singh Sekhwan.

Meanwhile, the Akali Dal demanded registration of a case against Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, Education Minister OP Soni and the committee members who authored PSEB Class XII history book with “derogatory references to Sikh Gurus”.

A resolution to this effect was passed at the Saturday’s meeting, attended by SGPC members, legislators, district presidents and senior party leaders.

Sukhbir alleged that the Congress government had neither taken action against committee members who had prepared the five chapters recently released online nor withdrawn the objectionable matter so far. He demanded immediate withdrawal of the new chapters.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/disgruntled-sad-leaders-stay-away-from-party-meet/674778.html

First Post – Stubble burning continuing in Amritsar despite Punjab government’s awareness measures, says district’s deputy commissioner

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 28 October 2018. Despite the deterioration in air quality in New Delhi and the adjoining areas, farmers in Amritsar continue to burn paddy-stubble and further deteriorate air quality, despite an order of prohibition.

Amritsar Deputy Commissioner Kamaldeep Singh Sangha said, “According to the National Green Tribunal and the Supreme Court the Punjab government tried to spread awareness on how to incorporate paddy straw in different ways. The agriculture department also spoke to the farmers and that worked.

Still, some people continued stubble burning and our team of officers had fined them according to the NGT order. One officer has been posted in every village to spread awareness on stubble burning. Things will start improving from now onwards.”

Data by the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) showed a decline in the paddy stubble-burning in Punjab this Kharif season.

The data from the PPCB reflects that 7503 cases of stubble-burning have been reported until Friday in 2018. During the corresponding periods in the last two years, there were 13,364 and 19,879 cases of farm burning.

The report by the pollution control board shows that Amritsar witnessed a slight dip in stubble-burning cases. A little more than 700 incidents have been recorded in 2018 as compared to 785 in 2017 and little lesser than 1000 in 2016.

The decline can be attributed to various factors, including awareness and farmers adhering to governmental policies in mitigating the farm fires.

Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan expressed concerns over the increase in air pollution levels in Delhi and its neighbouring cities and assured that the Centre will make all efforts to curb the menace.

“This time the Central government had appointed 41 teams from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to do field study of four cities, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Gurugrama and Haryana in order to curb the issue from the grass root level.

We will make efforts to curb the issue of air pollution,” the minister told reporters earlier in the day.

https://www.firstpost.com/india/stubble-burning-continuing-in-amritsar-despite-punjab-govts-awareness-measures-says-districts-deputy-commissioner-5461771.html

The Asian Age – Amritsar shows us our moral vacuum

Shiv Visvanathan

The tragedy of Amritsar is that we can get away with the story that no one was responsible in a causal sense

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 27 October 2018. The train tragedy in Amritsar needs a retelling because there is something strange about news today. The papers are full of scandal and outrage, of disaster and scapegoating. One would think there is a great demand for justice and care.

But once the blame game as a ritual is over, once the scapegoats are nailed, interest in a disaster fades.

There are two ways of looking at such an event. One is to set up a committee to investigate the event, list out the causes rationally and propose a set of reforms. This is more a ritual which signals the state is back after a long absence.

The other way is to look at the event the way it is consumed and consider how people responded. There are different time segments that we have to consider here. In a moment of crisis, there is a tremendous flow of energy, anger and emotion like a waterfall is waiting to be harnessed.

The melodrama of the blame game exhausts and traps most of the energy. Eventually, like Navjot Singh Sidhu after the Amritsar tragedy, we tote it up as God’s wrath. Faith in God also adds up in a strange way to sense that disasters, even those which are manmade, claim no accountability.

I realise causation is difficult to establish. Do we blame the railways for allowing the pandal so close to the tracks? Do we blame the police for their failure to control the crowd? In a festive moment, where no one is anticipating such a tragedy, how does one assign blame?

Yet do we dismiss the Amritsar event, where 61 people died, as an act of God? Will that do? It is not only a question of responsibility. It is a question of whether such an event could have been prevented.

Think of a public space. Does it have rituals of safety? Does human life count in these cases? Are 61 deaths to be dismissed as a meaningless event, an act of chance or a strange combination of circumstances where no one was responsible?

Most events in India become just part of the anarchy and the disorder of our lives does not allow for any rational narrative.

This brings one to a different set of questions. Suppose we had some kind of heuristic analysis about such events as a man-made possibility rather than something for the gods. Would that require a different culture of value and meaning? In our current culture, the 61 dead are political football in an electoral system which is looking for any issue.

But suppose we were to suggest that Indian democracy values votes not lives that we write odes to citizenship and empowerment but we are indifferent to the cost of lives. People dying in disasters, accidents and communal violence are written off. I do not think our society feels any sense of responsibility for them.

The railways immediately accused the dead for being “trespassers” and disclaimed any responsibility. Politicians, as political and moral luck would have it, will claim that they left the area a mere 10 minutes before the disaster took place, and were therefore ignorant to the accident or innocent.

There are two sets of problems here. Everyone wants to disclaim responsibility and no one wants to sit and ponder whether Amritsar requires a new civics.

I describe civics as a moral and social relationship; a rule game that demands accounting and opts for a wager that human life is worth something. If the dead are only treated as erasable or obsolescent, nothing is going to add up. Think of a simple question how much is the worth of human life and how can society make it more worthy.

I am not proposing a cost benefit analysis or an invasion of ambulance-chasing insurance firms. Putting a price to life commoditises it, but can we put number as a metaphor for concern? Let us reverse the question what society and governance have to do to atone for the meaningless death of 61 lives?

Is an act of mourning or commemoration enough? Do we accept responsibility for families of the dead? Do we promise each other that such an event will not happen again?

To do that we have to value life not look at a human being as friend, kin, worker, citizen or neighbour but as person, as a set of untold stories. If such a person is potentially priceless, how does one create a civic response to an event like the Amritsar tragedy?

We need to move from politics to civics, to a sense of community with rules. A certain minimum competence is required. A wise administrator once told me that to an ordinary MLA roads and trees are sources of opportunity and corruption. Between cutting trees and building useless roads, we create landslides.

Yet landslides are seen as God sent. We never ask the wider contextual question of what are the man-made forces that increase the probability of a disaster. Was Amritsar a disaster waiting to happen? I think so it was an accident which was not quite accidental. How do we minimise the disaster of such an event?

I think we begin with civics and civilisation before we move to politics or policy programmes. We have to begin with life and human life and the way we value it. Only then are we a moral community. The cities have become amoral communities because they show no responsibility for the other. The Gandhian idea of the last man should cover all.

Otherwise all we will have is fragmenting bureaucracies disowning all responsibility for disaster and insisting like the railway minister that the file is mentally closed. Only this sense of morality, trusteeship and the responsibility to the other creates a moral community.

What we saw in the train disaster in Amritsar was this absence of moral outrage, caring. We are looking for scapegoats like a mob but there was little sense of caring or responsibility. The tragedy of Amritsar is that we can get away with the story that no one was responsible in a causal sense.

But Amritsar cannot get away with the contention that no one was responsible in a moral sense. The train disaster is a fable for whatever is going on in India. Retelling the story would be the step in returning to a moral community. Without that electoral democracies are meaningless.

The writer is a member of Compost Heap, a group of academics and activists working on alternative imaginations.

http://www.asianage.com/opinion/columnists/271018/amritsar-shows-us-our-moral-vacuum.html

DNA India – Why Punjab CM Amarinder Singh asked for detailed ‘socio-economic profiles’ of Amritsar train victims

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 21 October 2018. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Sunday directed the Amritsar administration to make detailed socio-economic profiles of victims of the train accident which claimed 59 lives.

At least 59 people were killed and 72 injured Friday evening after a crowd of Dussehra revellers that had spilled onto railway tracks while watching burning of Ravana effigy was run over by a train near Joda Phatak in Amritsar.

The chief minister, who met some of the survivors in the hospital Saturday, was particularly moved by tales of two young women who lost their entire family including children and husbands, and in one case even her in-laws, an official release said.

Anguished at the plight of such survivors, Singh told Chief Principal Secretary Suresh Kumar that the government needed to do more than just giving Rs 5 lakh ex-gratia, especially in cases where victims were poor.

The senior Congress leader announced that a proper system would be worked out to ensure that such survivors were rehabilitated by the state at the earliest.

On Sunday, while reviewing the situation in the aftermath of the train tragedy, the Punjab chief minister directed the district officials to prepare detailed socio-economic profiles of the victims.

He also directed that ration, clothing, medicines etc be provided to the families of the victims as most were from the economically weaker sections of the society.

Singh reviewed the relief and rehabilitation work with the Crisis Management Group of ministers headed by state Health Minister Brahm Mohindra, and directed them to take immediate steps for early disbursement of the compensation.

All steps should be taken for the effective rehabilitation of the survivors and families of the victims, he added.The Crisis Management Group was set up by the state government on Friday, immediately after the disaster struck.

https://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-why-punjab-cm-amarinder-singh-asked-for-detailed-socio-economic-profiles-of-amritsar-train-victims-2677593

The Tribune – Most dead from UP, Bihar, earning their livelihood in Amritsar: Officials

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 20 October 2018. Most people who were mowed down by a speeding train in Amritsar during Dussehra celebrations on Friday evening were migrant workers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, an official said here on Saturday.

The accident has claimed 59 lives so far out of which 39 bodies have been identified by the authorities.

A senior official in the district administration said most migrant workers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar work in an industrial area a stone’s throw from the accident site and live nearby.

The Dussehra celebration gathering on Friday evening had a good number of people who belonged to these two states as the festival is celebrated with great devotion and pomp back in their home towns, he said.

“As per initial reports, most of deceased were migrant workers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and were working in the industrial area to earn their livelihood,” the official said.

The official, however, did not give the exact breakdown of numbers as 20 bodies were yet to be identified.

Jagunandan, a 40-year-old wage labourer from Hardoi in UP who suffered injuries in the head and leg, said he was not standing near the tracks but was pushed as people started running away from the main stage after the Ravan effigy was set afire.

The father of four was brought to hospital by a relative, who accompanied him to the event.

The district administration is providing all possible help to the families of the deceased in sending bodies to their home town, another official said.

Since morning, a large number of people have been sitting on railway tracks where the accident took place due to which train services have been suspended on this line.

Angry people are raising slogans against the state government, saying it did nothing to ensure proper security arrangements for the Dussehra event.

The Punjab government has ordered a magisterial inquiry to ascertain the reason behind the tragic accident.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/most-dead-from-up-bihar-earning-their-livelihood-in-amritsar-officials/671065.html