Rashid finding fault with passengers in Tezgam inferno draws flak

Prominent politicians call for railways minister's ouster, call for comprehensive probe


News Desk October 31, 2019
Social media users call for railways minister's ouster until probe completed into tragedy . PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

Notables across the political and social spectrum were up in arms against Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid on Thursday following his claim that passengers were responsible for the Rahim Yar Khan train inferno in which at least 70 people have been killed so far and scores injured.

Minister's statement

In the wake of one of the deadliest train accidents in the country's history, Rashid came out with a video message saying that two gas cylinders and a stove blew up on the Tezgam Express which was en route to Rawalpindi from Karachi.

The federal minister said that passengers managed to bring the gas cannisters and stove onboard the ill-fated locomotive.



Social media reaction

The minister's statement also came under criticism from the country's leading rights body, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). "The blame being shifted to passengers for the lethal accident near Rahim Yar Khan by the minister in charge is highly disappointing," it said in a statement.

PM Imran orders 'immediate inquiry' into Tezgam train accident

The human rights watchdog called for an independent inquiry into the incident, adding that,"We stand in solidarity with the victims and their families."



"HRCP is deeply concerned over the safety of passengers in the #trains run by #PakistanRailways. Being the chief mode of transportation for common citizens, it is the state's responsibility to ensure safety and security standards are in place."



While Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari also lay into Rashid over the incident saying,"Railway minister is stooping to a new low by victim blaming."

The scion of the Bhutto political dynasty deemed his behaviour "outrageous."

He added that Rashid's time as railways minister has witnessed the highest record of train accidents at the helm of the ministry.

"Heart wrenching news from this morning. #tezgam tragedy must immediately be investigated and accountability ensured," Bilawal said.



Bilawal also called on Prime Minister Imran Khan to oust Rashid from his post until a probe into the train accident is complete.



PPP leader Nafisa Shah also said that "Ridiculous to hear #ShaikhRasheed justifying #Tezgam incident calling it human error. He maligns opposition endlessly but miserably fails in performing his job. MrPrimeMinister more than 80 accidents& 250 deaths is too little to hold your Minister accountable?."



While lawyer Reema Omar also said that gas cylinders are clearly prohibited items that cannot be booked as luggage.

"It is the responsibility of the railways to ensure these safety guidelines are followed by all. Sheikh Rashid placing the blame on passengers isn't just callous, it's also clearly wrong #Tezgam," she added.



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