Amritsar Train Accident: Gateman denies allegations

Image PTI

Image PTI

Meanwhile, former minister and secretary of SAD, Bikram Singh Majithia said that ruling government should be held accountable for the incident as it did not inform the railways about the event being organised there.

Around 60 people are now known to have died when a train ploughed into a crowd of revellers watching a firework display in India, officials said Saturday.

"As demon king Ravana's effigy was located very close to the railway tracks at Jaura Phatak, a section of the crowd retreated towards the tracks to watch the celebrations, nearly ignorant of standing on the tracks", local man Parminder Singh told Xinhua.

"Everyone was running helter-skelter and suddenly the train crashed into the crowds of people", he said.

India's state railways, largely built during British colonial rule, have long faced criticism for their safety record.

The driver, Arvind Kumar, in a statement to the Railways administration said he had applied the emergency breaks, but since a large group of people started pelting stones on the train, he chose to proceed, The Indian Express reported on Sunday.

"Railways can not be blamed, railways were not informed about the ceremony".

The railway administration has said that it was not informed about the Dussehra celebration on that location. "The accident site was not properly lit and was not clearly visible from the level crossing".

Many on the tracks had been busy filming the festivities on their phones at the time so did not hear or see the train approaching at high speed, they stated. "It was a clear case of trespassing", he said.

"The (railway authorities) should have at least issued directions to slow down the (train)".




A near-empty passenger train was plied on the railway section amid tight security measures on Sunday evening.

On the other hand, Sonali Giri, Commissioner of Municipal Corporation, Amritsar, claimed that neither the Dussehra Committee sought any permission from her office for organising the event of 'Ravana Dahan' nor were they given any permission for it. "We will launch an agitation if the investigation not carried out properly", Majithia said.

The train driver has been detained at the Ludhiana railway station and questioned by the Punjab and Railway Police Saturday. The cargo train also had empty bogies.

Fifty bodies had already been found and at least 50 injured were admitted to a government-run hospital, the Press Trust of India news agency quoted Rajesh Sharma, a magistrate, as saying.

Most of the dead were migrant labourers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

The Punjab government on Saturday ordered a magisterial probe into the train tragedy.

The minister, who is now in the USA, has cancelled all his engagements there and is immediately returning to India.

Family members of the train tragedy victims said Punjab cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and his wife Navjot Kaur, who was the chief guest at the Dusshera function on Friday, had not even bothered to meet them despite their loss.

He also cancelled his proposed Israel visit in the aftermath of the disaster. My heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims.

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