Train kills at least 60 people watching fireworks in India during festival

Geraldine Edwards
October 22, 2018

In the wake of one of the biggest railway accidents of the year where 59 people were mowed down by a train on the Jalandhar-Amritsar DMU line, the railways have brushed off any need of a probe into the incident, calling those present on the tracks trespassers.

Local people blocking rail tracks to protest against a train accident that claimed 59 lives last Friday clashed with the police on Sunday and threw stones at security personnel after they were removed from the tracks and train services, suspended since the mishap, resumed. The railways said they were not informed about the plans and that people should not have been standing near the tracks. 'We hope that the normalcy will be restored in the area by Sunday evening as the number of protestors has come down since Saturday, ' a senior police officer said.

Police are investigating whether the organizers had a permit for the event and at what speed the train that ran over the crowd was traveling, said Amritsar's police commissioner, S.S. Srivastava.

Reports said the train hit scores of people who had gathered on tracks to watch the burning of a firework-packed effigy of the demon king Ravana for a Hindu festival.

Numerous victims were either on the railway tracks or near them and did not hear the commuter train coming in the noise of the crackers and giant effigies burning in the darkness, witnesses and officials said.

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"Extremely saddened by the train accident in Amritsar", he said.

The protestors had threatened to block all train traffic unless action was taken against railway officials and organisers of the Dussehra committee.

The death toll in the Amritsar train accident on Dussehra stands at 61 people.

However, the statutory inquiry by the Commission of Railway Safety, that works under the administrative control of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, will be conducted as per the laid down norms.

He said: 'There was no lapse on our part and no action against the driver will be initiated'.

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Meanwhile, opposition parties in Punjab, including BJP, AAP and SAD have called for stringent against those responsible for the event and dismissal of Sidhu from the state government.

India cricketer Yuvraj Singh expressed his condolences to affected families after a tragic train accident in Amritsar killed several people.

The train failed to stop after the accident on the outskirts of Amritsar, a city in Punjab state, said the state governing Congress party politician, Pratap Singh Bajwa.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh ordered the immediate release of Rs 3 crore to the District Collector for payment of ex gratia to the families of the deceased. Strong action should be taken.

Kaur's husband, Navjot Singh Sidhu, however, defended his wife.

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At least 300 people were watching the "Ravana dahan" at a ground adjacent to railway tracks when the train struck.

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