Amritsar, Oct 19 (PTI) Heart-rending scenes were witnessed here as Dussehra celebrations turned tragic Friday when a train ploughed through people standing across the tracks watching and revelling as the effigy of Ravana went up in smoke.
The train mowed down at least 52 revellers within seconds as it zipped though them — crushing and blowing away anybody who came in its way.
At least 300 unsuspecting people were at the spot watching ‘Ravana dahan’ at a ground adjacent to the tracks.
The celebratory crowd broke into chaos as cries and wails filled the air. Dismembered body parts of revellers laid strewn on tracks and on the blood-soaked ground.
An eyewitness told reporters near the accident site that scenes were reminiscent of ones witnessed during the Partition of the country when millions of people lost their lives in violence. For several mothers, who were till just moments ago celebrating the festivities, the few fateful moments changed the life forever. Shock and disbelief were common emotions. “I have lost my child. I want him back,” said an inconsolable mother. A local resident said they have been requesting the authorities and their representatives in legislatures to talk with the railways and make sure trains are slowed down near this section of the track during Dussehra. “But no one has listened,” he lamented.
There was also anger among the people.
“The driver didn’t blow the horn,” alleged one of the witnesses.
The train was going from Jalandhar to Amritsar when the incident occurred at Joda Phatak. Sub Divisional Magistrate Amritsar I Rajesh Sharma said 52 people have died and at least 72 injured have been admitted to Amritsar hospital.
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.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.