New Delhi: More than 50 people were feared dead after a train ran over people watching Dussehra celebrations near a rail track in Amritsar’s Choura Bazar on Friday. Reportedly, the incident took place when people were standing on tracks to watch Ravan effigy burning and the sound of crackers drowned out that of the approaching train, leading to the mishap. The effigy was being burnt near the railway track by some locals at Joda Phatak. The train was on way Amritsar and was coming from Pathankot. The toll is expected to rise over 100. There were around 500-700 people on the spot. (Catch Updates of Rescue Operations Here) Also Read - No Melas, Food Stalls, Processions, Exhibitions in Delhi Till Oct 31: DDMA Issues Fresh SOP For Festivals
Later, Railway CPRO told ANI, “Ravan effigy was being burnt 70-80 m from the gate. The effigy fell so people present there ran towards the railway track in a state of panic. At the time, a train was passing and so, the level crossing there was shut.” He added that Railways had issued helpline numbers. Also Read - 'Together in Crisis': Muslims Win Netizens' Hearts as They Donate 330 Quintal Wheat For Golden Temple Langar in Amritsar
An eyewitness blamed the administration for the oversight. He said, “The administration and the Dussehra committee are at fault, they should have raised an alarm when the train was approaching. They should have made sure that the train halts or slows down.” Another bystander said, “The Congress had organised Dussehra celebrations here without permission. Navjot Singh Sidhu’s wife was the chief guest at the celebrations and she continued to make a speech even as people were mowed down by the train.” Also Read - Here Are 5 Things You Should Know About The First Martyr of Sikh Faith - Guru Arjan Dev
Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, while expressing his shock in a tweet, said that all government and private hospitals had been instructed to stay open to help the injured. He added that the district authorities had been directed to take up relief and rescue operations on a war footing. He has also directed the Home Secretary, Health Secretary and ADGP Law and Order to rush to Amritsar. Revenue Minister Sukhbinder Sarkaria was deputed to reach Amritsar to oversee rescue operations. Singh himself will visit Amritsar on Saturday.
He also announced ex-gratia compensation to the kin of the deceased. Singh tweeted, “My government will give Rs 5 lakh to the kin of each deceased and free treatment to the injured in government and private hospitals.”