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Dussehra 2018: Amritsar Train Accident Puts Damper on Celebrations; State Mourning in Punjab With 60 Dead
Till the last reports came in, 51 people were injured.
New Delhi: Dussehra, the festival that celebrates the victory of good over evil, was a mixed bag this year. A freak train accident in Amritsar brought an abrupt halt to Dussehra revelry late in the day. Earlier, political leaders were spotted at different venues in the national capital, celebrating Dussehra while down south, there was a reason to cheer for agitators in Kerala as the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) announced its decision to appeal against the Supreme Court verdict that allowed the entry of women of all ages inside the shrine. (Also read: Amritsar Footage Shows People Taking Selfies)
- SAD says Congress leaders responsible for the accident.
- Cong says the injured should be treated first.
State mourning has been declared in Punjab and all offices and educational institutions will remain closed on Saturday. Till the last reports came in, 60 people had lost their lives while about 51 had been treated for injuries. A doctor said most people suffered orthopaedic injuries, abrasions, head trauma and eye injuries. While the initial reports suggested that a train ran over people standing on the tracks to watch the Ravan effigy burn, Railway CPRO said later that the celebrations, which were being held in Amritsar’s Choura Bazar, led to panic when the effigy fell. That sent people running towards the track. Just then, DMU train number 74943 was passing by the closed gate and ran over people. Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the kin of each deceased and the amount was later supplemented by another Rs 2 lakh by PM Narendra Modi. The CM has also ordered a probe into the accident. (Also read: PM Modi Directs Officials to Provide Immediate Assistance)
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Even as condolences poured in from the twitter handles of all prominent leaders, locally, politics began being played over this accident as well. Shiromani Akali Dal’s BS Majithia said, “Everyone present there, including those who lost their family members, complained against Navjot Kaur Sidhu, Navjot Sidhu and the councillor of the area. They all felt that the incident wouldn’t have occurred if all precautions were taken.” Lashing out, Congress’ Navjot Kaur said it wasn’t the time to play politics and what was required was to first treat the injured.
In Kerala, after days of maintaining that it wouldn’t seek a review in the Supreme Court order allowing women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala temple, the TDB, the body that administers the shrine, gave in to the demands of the other stakeholders and announced it would appeal against the verdict after all. The shrine, whose doors were opened on Wednesday for just five days, hasn’t seen any woman devotee of the “banned group” yet with protesters barring the entry of any of them, even journalists. Meanwhile, the Centre has asked Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to tighten security in view of the continuing protests. On Friday, protests at the entrance of Sabarimala temple forced two women daring to climb to the hilltop shrine amid tight police security to call off their journey. The intensified protests by devotees and priests forced them to return just 500 metres from the temple.
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