Tragedy hits Dasehra celebrations, several feared killed as train mows down Dasehra crowd in Amritsar
Several people are feared killed and many others injured, most of them seriously, after a fast moving train ran through a big crowd of Dasehra revelers at Jora Phatak (manned rail crossing) in Amritsar on Friday evening. Initial estimates put the death toll at 30 while others held that figure was much higher.
Bodies were littered all over the rail track and injured were being taken to nearby hospitals.
Tragedy took place around 7 pm when effigies of Ravana and others were set on fire. Huge crowd of Dasehra revelers had assembled at a venue that encompasses rail track. As the effigies were set on fire amidst bursting of crackers, the crowd was taken by a surprise when a fast moving train mowed the crowd. Most of the victims could not hear the noise of the fast moving train because of the noise of the fire crackers.
Senior officials of the district administration and the police reached the spot to oversee rescue operations. The Dasehra ground, located near Dhobi Ghat, had former Parliamentary Secretary, Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu, as the Chief guest at the Dasehra celebrations.
Police Commissioner SP Srivastava said that exact loss of life was being verified as the rescue teams were trying to take the injured to the hospitals. Congress MLA Raj Kuma Verka confirmed that Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu was the guest at the Dasehra function where the tragedy took place. The same Dasehra ground was used for holding the function every year.
Authorities were unable to say as to why the Railways Department was not alerted and why the trains moved at high speed even though everyone was aware that the area was being used for Dasehra celebrations.
People were agitated as they felt that it was because of the negligence and total apathy of the administration that such a dastardly tragedy took place.
Agitators blamed the organizers for the ghastly tragedy as many people, including children and women, were mowed down by the fast moving train.
Congress MP Gurjit Aujla said that the loss of life was huge as he could not reveal the exact num ber of those killed or injured in the mishap. He held that Dasehra revelers came into spate of fast moving train as they were moving back after the effigies were set on fire. The crowd was not aware of the Pathankot-Amritsar train that was running at its normal speed.
Investigations were on as the authorities were trying to evacuate the injured and others hit by the tragedy.