Punjab is yet to recover from the shock of the Amritsar train tragedy on Friday and yet an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA decided to call the death of 59 people as a “chhota hadsha”—a small incident.
A video has surfaced on social media where the AAP lawmaker, Sukhpal Singh Khaira, is heard trivialising these deaths. In the video, he says, “…small incident like these keeps on happening in India, in Punjab.” Khaira likens these deaths to road accidents and fatalities, saying: “Eight to 10 people day in Punjab daily … there are days when eight to 10 people from the same family die [in such accidents].” He adds that “stray animals die in road accidents too”. Khaira—who had been leading the rebel faction in AAP’s Punjab Unit—also said in the video that “5,000 people” die in Punjab every year in road accidents.
Given the timing of Khaira’s statement—merely days after the incident—it’s unsurprising that social media immediately called his comments “insensitive”. Fifty-nine people died on Friday night when a train mowed them down while they were watching the effigy-burning of Ravana on the railway tracks. Congress lawmaker Navjot Sidhu Kaur was the chief guest of the event where the accident occurred.