At least 61 people were killed and 72 injured on Friday evening after several Dussehra revellers, who had spread onto the railway tracks while watching the burning of a Ravana effigy, were run over by a train.
Amritsar: Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani said that the railways was not informed about a Dussehra event along the tracks that led to the death of 61 people in Amritsar. Ashwani Lohani said that the accident did not happen at the level crossing but in between the stations Amritsar and Manawala.
Lohani said that the gateman was 400 metres away at a level crossing. He also said that if the driver had applied emergency brakes, there could have been a bigger tragedy.
"At midsections, trains run at their assigned speed and people are not expected to be on the tracks. At midsections, there is no railway staff posted. We have staff at level crossings whose job is to regulate traffic," he said, explaining why the railways was not alerted about the congregation by its staff.
He said that the train was running at its assigned speed and initial reports suggest that the driver applied brakes and the train slowed down.
"There was no information and no permission sought from us. The event took place at a place adjoining the railway land in private property," he said.
Refusing to assign any blame, Lohani, who visited the spot at midnight, said that the national transporter has been carrying out campaigns exhorting people not to trespass. "We will take that forward," he said.
The train was from Jalandhar and when the accident occurred at Joda Phatak near Amritsar, at least 300 people were watching 'Ravana dahan' at a ground adjacent to the tracks.
Interestingly, Ravan in the play enacted on the ground nearby, was the one who attempted to save lives. Dalbir Singh played Ravana at the Ramleela festivities and reached Joda Phatak to watch the burning of the effigy. As he spotted the speeding train, he decided to run to raise an alarm, but was too late. Singh too was crushed along with others.
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Last Updated Oct 20, 2018, 6:18 PM IST