TNN | Updated: Oct 19, 2018, 22:20 IST
- The tragedy took place at the Joda Fatak area where a large crowd had gathered to watch the fireworks
- As the firecrackers went off, the organisers asked people to move back
- A large number of people moved towards the railway tracks
- Cops said that the revelers could not hear the train approaching because of the loud explosions
The tragedy took place at the Joda Fatak area where a large crowd had gathered to watch the fireworks. As the firecrackers went off, the organisers of the Dussehra celebration asked people to move back. A large number of people moved towards the railway tracks.
At the same time, the Jalandhar-Amritsar DMU was crossing the spot. Police officials said that the revelers could not hear the train approaching because of the loud explosions from the effigy and were run over by the train. Eyewitnesses said the Amritsar-Howrah train had crossed the spot minutes earlier. Had the two trains crossed at the same time, the casualties would have been much higher.
Extremely saddened by the train accident in Amritsar. The tragedy is heart-wrenching. My deepest condolences to the… https://t.co/6jiATjWfM6
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) 1539961804000
Amritsar commissioner of police SS Srivastava confirmed the death toll. He said they were trying to clear the bodies from the tracks and take the injured to nearby hospitals.
Amritsar deputy commissioner Kamaldeep Singh Sangha said ambulance services had been pressed into service to take the injured to the hospitals. “All hospitals in the city have been alerted about the injured patients and ambulances from the neighbouring districts have also been requisitioned to carry the injured and dead,” he said.
I spoke to Home Secretary of Punjab and DGP of the state regarding the train accident in Amritsar. They are rushing… https://t.co/4QOAIYrLBV
— राजनाथ सिंह (@rajnathsingh) 1539960767000
Dussehra was being celebrated in the Amritsar (East) constituency represented by Punjab cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu. His wife and former MLA from the area, Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu, was at the function and left before the mishap. “I had left the spot only moments earlier after seeing that all arrangements were in place,” she told reporters after the tragedy. “I rushed back as soon as I got a call about the accident.”
Sources said that when the effigy was being burnt, the spectators pushed back around 100 feet on to the railway tracks as they feared that the burning effigy would fall on them.
May God give strength to the bereaved and injured. Railways is proving all possible assistance at the site. I have… https://t.co/GWnWJ46ShZ
— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) 1539965910000
Shocked to hear about the tragedy on rail tracks in Amritsar, Punjab. Understand Indian Railways and local authorit… https://t.co/jziHlFX7bp
— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) 1539961597000
As news of the tragedy emerged, people gathered in large numbers at the accident spot. Many of them alleged negligence on part of both the organisers of the Dussehra celebrations as well as the state government for not making adequate safety arrangements given that the railway tracks were right next to the celebration site. They blamed the administration and politicians for failing to protect them.
Local MLA and Punjab minister OP Soni visited the spot after the tragedy where he had to face the anger of the people.
Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh has directed home secretary NS Kalsi, health secretary Satish Chandra and ADGP (law and order) Hardeep Singh Dhillon to immediately rush to Amritsar. The chief minister would fly to Amritsar on Saturday to assess the situation.
We will do everything possible to assist the injured. Have directed the district administration to leave no stone u… https://t.co/DWtz5Kjxev
— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) 1539962719000
Amarinder tweeted, “Rushing to Amritsar to personally supervise relief & rescue in tragic rail accident on Dussehra in Amritsar. My govt will give Rs 5 lakh to kin of each deceased & free treatment to injured in govt & pvt hospitals. District authorities have been mobilised on war footing.”
Punjab BJP president and Rajya Sabha MP Shwait Malik, who is a former mayor of Amritsar, said, “It is a very unfortunate incident. It should not have happened.”