M A I N   N E W S

Naina Devi Tragedy
Heartrending scenes at hospital
Tribune News Service

Mother of a victim of the Naina Devi mishap at the Civil Hospital, Anandpur Sahib, on Tuesday.
Mother of a victim of the Naina Devi mishap at the Civil Hospital, Anandpur Sahib, on Tuesday. Tribune photo by Pradeep Tewari

Anandpur Sahib, March 31
Wails and sobs once again filled corridors of the Civil Hospital here. An elderly woman was looking for her grand daughter. She was speechless and could not even convey her lost child’s name to the health workers there.

Kith and kin of the deceased waited to collect their bodies while others were overjoyed to see their relatives alive, but injured. Relatives of those injured, who were referred to the PGI, Chandigarh, rushed to the hospital on learning that they were serious.

“Most of us were sleeping, while others fell drowsy, when the truck took a sharp turn. We experienced a jolt and within no time all hell broke loose. When I regained consciousness, a woman was buried beside me under the truck and was crying for help,” said Om Prasad.

Around 100 or 125 persons were travelling in the truck. Those with minor injuries boarded bus to their villages at the break of dawn. A few pilgrims got unconscious because of shock and were brought back to senses by sprinkling water on them.

A board of six doctors started conducting post-mortem of the deceased at around 10 am. By 2 pm, 21 of the 18 bodies had been identified and handed over to the respective relatives.

Fifteen members of a family from Mahlan village in Nawanshahr were travelling in the truck. Two cousins, Malkeet Singh and Gurdeep Singh, died in the accident. Both were in their early twenties. 22-year-old Lakhvir Singh’s family said he was the only brother of seven sisters and the only support of his ailing parents.




Learning from past, locals come to the rescue
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Rampur Jajjar (Anandpur Sahib), March 31
At about 11.40 pm, when residents of this sleepy village heard a big bang followed by shrieks and then an eerie silence, they knew that another vehicle carrying pilgrims from the Naina Devi shrine had met with an accident.

They have been witnesses to such incidents in the past. The ziz-zag section of the Anandpur Sahib-Naina Devi road has a number of sharp curves that often cause fatal accidents. During the Navratras, a number of pilgrims used the road.

“A few years ago, I had witnessed a similar accident at Kalan Dablan (a nearby village in Himachal Pradesh) in which 20 pilgrims had died after the vehicles carrying them had met with an accident,” said Nirmal Singh, a member of the village panchayat.

Having learnt from experiences, men and women folk of the village rushed to the spot to rescue the injured in the pitch darkness. Before the police and medical teams reached the spot, the villagers were already on the job of retrieving the dead and injured from under the overturned truck.

“After lighting up the area with the headlights of vehicles, we started pulling out the victims from under the truck. A message was sent to the villagers to bring their vehicles to the spot,” said Kuljeet Singh, a resident of Rampur village.

Gyano Devi, who lives near the spot, said some devotees had lost their limbs.

As the villagers were rescuing the victims, Baba Labh Singh of Qila Anandgarh, took little time in dispatching vehicles and volunteers to the spot. Baba Jarnail Singh, who supervised the rescue operations, told The Tribune that they did what they could to help the victims.

Meanwhile, Harpreet, a resident of Ghuana village, Ludhiana, was regretful for organising the pilgrimage. He arranged for the two trucks to take the devotees, mostly labourers from Jeevapur, Machhiwara, Mehal Ghuana and other areas adjoining Ludhiana.


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