At least 50 killed after train ploughs into crowd in India

Aaron Brown
October 22, 2018

AMRITSAR, India-India's railway officials and local community leaders traded blame on October 20 over an accident in which a train ran over scores of people gathered on the railway tracks for a festival in the northern city of Amritsar.

India's railway officials and local community leaders have traded blame over an accident last Friday (Oct 19) in which a train ran over scores of people gathered on the railway tracks for a festival in the northern city of Amritsar.

The police booked unidentified protesters who clashed with them on Sunday morning as the police began clearing the railway tracks in the area.

However, police personnel have been deployed at the residence.

Indian Railway Minister Piyush Goyal also expressed grief over the deaths and said his ministry officials were on the spot assisting in rescue and relief measures.

On Friday, a 700-strong crowd watching a huge Ravan effigy go up in flames amid exploding crackers spilled on to the tracks at Jora Phatak when the Jalandhar-Amritsar DMU passenger train heading to Hoshiarpur from Amritsar came hurtling down around 7 p.m.

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.

The Government Railway Police (GRP) registered an FIR against "unknown persons" and Chief Minister Amarinder Singh announced a magisterial inquiry, which will submit its report within four weeks.

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A state of mourning was declared in Punjab with offices and schools staying closed on Saturday as the first funerals for identified victims took place.

Another eyewitness said people were busy taking pictures on their mobile phones and "they were not given any warning that they should not stand on the tracks". "Nobody was given the permission for organising the Dussehra event. This was an incident where people were trespassing on the tracks and not an accident", Railway Board chairman Ashwani Lohani said.

An angry crowd shouts slogans at the site of a deadly train accident on the outskirts of Amritsar, India, on Friday.

The minister said drivers are given specific instructions on where to slow down the train. "There was no lapse on our part and no action against the driver will be initiated", Sinha said Saturday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday offered condolences to India on a train accident near Amritsar in Punjab, which claimed 61 lives, the Russian Embassy said.

The event was organised by Saurabh Madan, husband of Congress councillor Vijay Madan, the police said. Mr Sidhu's wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu was the chief guest at the event, and she was accused of leaving the venue after the accident, a charge both have denied.

A Southern Railway official also recalled the accident and told IANS that the Amritsar accident was identical to the one that had happened in Thalaserry.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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