61 run over on Amritsar rail tracks

AMRITSAR: As many as 58 persons (61 according to PTI) were killed and over 40 injured on Friday evening after a crowd of Dasehra revellers that had spilled onto railway tracks while watching burning of the Ravana effigy was run over by the 74643 Jalandhar-Amritsar Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) near Joda Phatak area.

Amritsar, October 19

As many as 58 persons (61 according to PTI) were killed and over 40 injured on Friday evening after a crowd of Dasehra revellers that had spilled onto railway tracks while watching burning of the Ravana effigy was run over by the 74643 Jalandhar-Amritsar Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) near Joda Phatak area.

At least 300 persons were watching ‘Ravana dahan’ at a ground near the tracks and as the effigy was lit and the fireworks went off, a section of the crowd started retreating towards the tracks where a large number of people were already standing to watch the event, officials said.

Eyewitnesses said two trains arrived from the opposite direction at the same time (the Howrah Mail from Amritsar on the other track), giving little opportunity to people to escape.

Several people were mowed down by one of the trains, they said.

Wails and cries of people filled the air as friends and relatives frantically looked for their near and dear ones. Severed bodies, including of many children, were still lying on the accident site hours after the incident with angry people not allowing authorities to remove them.

 

 

 

It was a heart-rending sight as the dismembered body parts laid strewn on the blood-soaked ground. Many bodies could not be identified.

There was shock and disbelief as panic-stricken people recounted the horror. “I have lost my minor child. I want him back,” an inconsolable mother could be heard.

“Several times we have been requesting the authorities and leaders to take up the issue with railway authorities to slow down the trains near this phatak during Dasehra, but no one has listened,” a local said. Another said people could not hear the sound of the train. — TNS

Rail services suspended

New Delhi: All services on the Jalandhar-Amritsar route remained suspended three hours after the tragedy. A railway official said while some trains are being diverted, many are stationed near Jalandhar. Railway officials termed the dead as “trespassers” and said they were unlikely to get any compensation from the national transporter as they were not passengers. PTI

State mourning today

  • All offices, educational institutions in Punjab to remain closed on Saturday
  • Railways helpline numbers — 0183-2223171, 0183-2564485
  • PM announces Rs 2 lakh for family of dead, Rs 50,000 for the injured
  • MoS, Railways, Manoj Sinha, reached the spot late at night. The train driver, whose identity is withheld, is being questioned

Permission ‘not sought’

Was permission sought and granted to burn Dasehra effigies near the railway tracks? Soon after the tragedy, the MC Commissioner said it wasn’t. The CM said the administration will look into why the effigy was erected next to rail tracks, but MLA Navjot Kaur Sidhu said Dasehra celebrations took place at the spot every year. Railways should have ensured trains slow down, she added. TNS

 

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