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Rly engine hits school van, three children die
Kulwinder Sandhu/Anirudh Gupta
Tribune News Service

Haraz (Ferozepur), February 2
Three schoolchildren died on the spot, while 13 were injured when a school van (MH-02-9873) they were travelling in was hit by a railway engine on an unmanned railway crossing at Haraz village, near Talwandi Bhai, in Ferozepur district today.

As per details available, they were the students of Shah Balwant Rai DAV Public School, Talwandi Bhai, and were on their way to school when the accident took place. The engine was on its way from Ferozepur to Ludhiana when it rammed into the van. The van was dragged by the engine for a couple of yards before coming to a halt.

The deceased have been identified as Sandeep Kaur, daughter of Sukhmander Singh and a student of class X, Rupinder Kaur, daughter of Angrej Singh and a student of class VIII, and Shubkaranjit Singh, son of Gurpreet Singh, and student of LKG.

Five of the seriously injured have been referred to the DMC Hospital in Ludhiana and eight children have been admitted to private hospitals in Moga. The children belonged to various villages around Talwandi Bhai.

District Magistrate Megh Raj and Senior Superintendent of Police Dinesh Partap Singh said besides Kulwinder Singh, driver of the van, there were 19 students in the van. The remaining students and the driver escaped unhurt in the mishap. The driver, however, fled from the spot.

The Railway Police has registered a criminal case under Sections 279, 304-A, 337 and 338, IPC, against him and owner of the van Gurdev Singh.

The van, which was being run on contract basis, had started from Dhana Shahid village and was going towards Talwandi Bhai en route Buiwala,

Jawahar Singh Wala when the mishap took place near Haraz village.

Eyewitnesses and injured students told the police that the driver was attending to a mobile call when the incident took place. The children saw the engine approaching towards the van and tried to convey this to the driver, but he was busy on his mobile and did not respond.

An official of the district administration said visibility was clear this morning on both sides of the unmanned crossing.

School principal UR Vashist, who expressed shock over the tragedy, said the school management would bear the medical expenses of the injured students.

He said the driver of the van had direct contract with parents of students for the transportation to the school. Meanwhile, the district magistrate has ordered a magisterial probe into the incident.

During preliminary investigations, it has come to the fore that the van was old and not passed by the transport department for running as a commercial vehicle.

Irrigation Minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon and Chief Parliamentary Secretary Shital Singh, who visited the injured students at Ludhiana and Moga, said the state government would provide a compensation of Rs 1 lakh each to the families of the deceased, whereas, an amount of Rs 25,000 each would be given to the injured students.

Sekhon said the government would bear the entire medical expenses. Meanwhile, the two girls who had died in the accident were cremated at Jawahar Singh Wala village and the boy, Shubhkaranjit, was cremated at Patli village. The irrigation minister, the DM and the SDM attended the cremation ceremony at both places.

Senior railway officials also reached the spot to take the first-hand stock of the situation. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal have expressed shock and sorrow over the tragic accident.




Heart-rending scenes at hospital
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 2
Heartrending scenes were witnessed at the DMC Hospital here, as five girls who had got injured when a train engine collided with a van ferrying students of SBR DAV Public School on an unmanned parking at Haraaj village were brought to the hospital this morning. The injured have been identified as Rupinder Kaur (15), Harvinder Kaur (14), Jasvir Kaur (14), Rajvir Kaur (4) and Manvir Kaur (4).

Parents of the children alleged that the unmanned crossing had become a death trap for residents of the village. Many cases of the similar nature had been reported in the past, they alleged.

A few days ago, a similar tragedy was reportedly averted when a school van tried to cross the railway crossing when the train was barely 100 m away. The train driver, however, applied the breaks and prevented the collision.

Harjinder Singh, a resident of the village, said nine children of his family were travelling in the van. He said two of them escaped unhurt, but Rajvir Kaur, Jasvir Kaur, Inderpreet Kaur, Satnam Singh, Davinder, Ravinder and Sukhbir received serious injuries.

“The school had organised a function today and my daughter was reluctant to participate in it, but I insisted her to go,” rues Amrit Parkash Singh, father of Rupinder Kaur.

Gurpreet Singh, uncle of 4-year-old Manvir Kaur, alleged: “The government is trying to wash its hands which are soaked in the blood of innocents.” “Is the announcement of Rs 1 lakh a solution?” he asked.

Van driver booked

Ferozpur: The Railway authorities have blamed the driver of the school van that barged into the railway engine for gross negligence while passing the level crossing between Ferozshah and Talwandi. Barjesh Dharmani, senior divisional operations manager, Ferozpur Division, said the rear portion of the van collided with the engine, which implies that the driver attempted to take chance of crossing the unmanned gate before the engine had arrived. He said the school children admitted in the hospital had told additional DRM RS Ghera that the driver was talking on his mobile phone when the accident took place. Dharmani stated that the Railways have registered a case against the driver, Kulwinder Singh. He said the vehicle belonged to one Gurdev Singh of Talwandi Bhai and had no valid permit. He further said the driver was in a hurry, hence he took chance of crossing the unmanned gate.



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