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Train rams bus, 16 killed
Neeraj Bagga & Rajay Deep
Tribune News Service

Chuhad Chak (Moga), December 14
16 persons, including seven teenagers and four women, were killed and 14 injured, some of them seriously, when a mini-bus rammed into the Satluj Express, which was heading to Ferozepur from Ludhiana, at 7.15 am here today at a railway crossing.

The accident occurred after Kulwinder Singh, the guard manning the crossing, put his 12-year-old daughter on board the mini-bus and then lifted the barrier at the railway crossing so that it could cross over to the other side. His daughter was among those killed. The guard is reported to be absconding.

The private mini-bus was on way to Lopoke in Moga from Jagraon near Ludhiana. It used to ferry commuters on this 30-km stretch regularly. Students constituted a major chunk of the commuters during the early hours of the day.

The Government Railway Police (GRP), Faridkot, has registered an FIR against the guard under Section 304 of the IPC and Section 175 of the Railway Act.

People from nearby area rushed to the site of the accident. They rescued the injured from the mangled heap that the mini-bus was reduced to after the engine hit its rear. Senior district officials also reached the spot. The bodies of six of the victims were brought to the civil hospital here while 10 were sent to the civil hospital in Jagraon.

The six brought to the civil hospital for autopsy in Moga were Tikka Singh (12), Chinder Singh (14), both brothers, Jasdeep Singh (25), Kamaljeet Kaur (14), Gurpreet Singh (19) and Harjit Kaur (45). The 10 sent to the civil hospital, Jagraon, were Rajdeep Kaur (14), Sumitra Devi (45), Sandeep Kaur (13), Amandeep Kaur (12), Surjit Singh (35), Jagdev Singh (22), Jagdeep Singh (22), Amarinder Kaur (23) of Mahal Kalan village, Barnala, Surjit Kaur (60) and Sukhwinder Singh (14).

Three seriously injured persons Harjinder Singh (32), Shinder Singh (30) and Gurmail Singh (45) were admitted to the Moga civil hospital.

According to people of adjoining villages, the railway guard used to allow the mini-bus to travel across the barrier by ignoring the safety norms, but today failed to judge the exact timing of the train. Eyewitnesses said the driver of the bus used to hand him the daily newspaper and ferry his daughter to school and had repeated the routine even today. The driver, Iqbal Singh, is also injured and admitted to the civil hospital, Jagraon.

A majority of the casualties were from this village and Jagraon. Most of those killed were youngsters and children as they were going to schools and colleges. Cremation of eight bodies was held at Chuhar Chak village in Moga and heart-rending scenes were witnessed there.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal visited the site of the accident and also the village to console the bereaved families. He did not announce anything on the spot but later reportedly handed over Rs 21 lakh to Moga deputy commissioner Satwant Singh Johal for distributing immediate aid to the affected families.

Railway officials announced Rs 5 lakh for the kin of the deceased, Rs 50,000 for the grievously injured and Rs 15,000 for the injured. Badal added that the state government would bear the cost of treatment of the injured.

Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee chief Rajinder Kaur Bhattal also visited the affected families.

Health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla visited the Civil Hospital in Moga and Jagraon and DMC, Ludhiana. Transport minister Master Mohan Lal was also among those present at the site.

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