16 February 2020
Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, here on Sunday, commended 14-year-old Amandeep Kaur for rescuing four children from the burning school van at Longowal town in the Sangrur district. Four minors died in the accident on Saturday.
"I salute the extraordinary bravery & valour of Amandeep Kaur who risked her life to put out the fire and rescued 4 children from the burning van," the Chief Minister said.
"I am so proud of you. I am looking forward to meeting you," he said.
The LPG-fuelled modified but discarded van was being run by Simran Public School. When the van caught fire, 12 students were in it on their way home from the school.
The school authorities had purchased the discarded van a day earlier. The dead included two children of a family and a two-and-a-half-year-old child who was returning home after the first day at the school.
According to eyewitnesses, passers-by raised alarm when they noticed fire on the rear side of the vehicle. They also pulled out children after breaking the windowpanes.
Meanwhile, the police booked van driver Dalbir Singh and owner-cum-principal of the school Lakhwinder Singh on charge of murder on the complaint of a victim's father. He alleged gross negligence on the school authorities' part to use the unfit van.
Earlier, a case under Section 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) was registered against the school management, the principal and the van driver.
Punjab has announced Rs 750,000 compensation to the next of kin of the dead. Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the apex religious body of Sikhs, has announced Rs 1 lakh to the next of kin of each victim.
SGPC chief Gobind Singh Longowal demanded strict action against officials whose negligence led to plying of unfit vehicles.