Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday ordered a magisterial enquiry into the Amritsar mishap in which 59 people were killed and several others injured when two trains speeding in opposite directions mowed down people standing on the tracks near a railway crossing. The victims were watching a Ravan effigy being burnt at a Dussehra celebration. The CM, who visited the injured in the hospital, sought a report within four weeks.
At least 300 spectators were present at the Dhobi Ghat ground, barely 2 km from the Amritsar station, when the incident took place. Many of them stood on the tracks close to the Jaura Phatak crossing to get a better view and were taking videos of the burning Ravan as the first of the trains, 74643 Jalandhar-Amritsar DMU, ran them over.
The second train, the 13006 Amritsar-Howrah Express, came seconds later and some of those who had jumped on the second set of tracks to escape the first were caught under it.
Sukhbir Singh Badal, President of SAD, said “It is an unpardonable negligence. Strong action should be taken. It is a mass massacre.”
An FIR was lodged against unknown persons, officials said as locals asserted that effigy burning had been going on at the spot for at least 20 years. The Amritsar Municipal Corporation maintained that no permission was given.
“Nobody was given the permission for organising the Dussehra event. Moreover, nobody had applied for the permission with the Amritsar Municipal Corporation,” Commissioner Sonali Giri said. Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani, who visited the spot at midnight, said the railways was not informed about the event and the accident occurred at a stretch between the Amritsar and Manawala stations and not at a level crossing.