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61 dead, 72 injured as trains run over Dussehra revelers near Amritsar

At least 61 people were killed and 72 were injured on Friday night after a mass of Dussehra revelers who…

At least 61 people were killed and 72 were injured on Friday night after a mass of Dussehra revelers who had flushed railroad tracks while watching the Ravana effigy burn by a train near Amritsar, officials said.

The train came from Jalandhar when the accident occurred in Joda Phatak near Amritsar, where at least 300 people looked at “Ravana dahan” on a land bordered by the tracks.

Sub-district governor Rajesh Sharma said 61 people, including women and children, have died and at least 72 injured have been admitted to Amritsar Hospital.

A video showed that people drove over the train when they watched the Ravana effigy burn, with many of them also watching the film celebrate.

Opposition parties blamed the congressional government to allow Dussehra parties near the tracks, while railway officers also tried to attack local authorities and said that the national carrier did not give permission for such an event .

Raveen Thukral, media adviser to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, said the first reports suggest that the accident occurred during a stamp when people rushed to the tracks when cakes burst during the incineration of Ravana effigy. The reports indicate that the train crashed through the audience on the tracks at that time, he added.

When the imagery lit and the fireworks went out, some of the audience began to retreat to the tracks where a large number of people stood to watch the event, officials said.

However, two trains arrived from the opposite side while they did not have time to move, they said. Several people were cut off by one of the fog.

Wail and scream filled the air as friends and relatives looked frantically after their loved ones. Divorced bodies, including children, lay in place hours after the accident with angry people who do not allow the authorities to remove them.

It was a heartbreaking sight because the split body parts were sprinkled on the blood-soaked field, and many were difficult to identify, said the eyewitnesses.

People called out slogans against former local MLA and wife of Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, Navjot Kaur Sidhu, who was presenting the main guest during the event and arguing that she left the scene after the accident. She said, however, that she had left the place before the accident took place and rushed to the hospital the moment she came to know it.

She said the railroad should have been sure to slow down near the part of the track during the Dussehra celebration.

“Every year, Dussehra celebrates there,” she said, as opposition parties raised questions about permission to keep the program close to the railroad tracks.

Among the political bickering, all major parties, including BJP, Congress and AAP, invited their local party workers to assist in relief work.

It was shocking and distrustful when panic prisoners told the horror.

“I’ve lost my little child. I want him back” could an inadequate mother be heard.

“We have repeatedly requested that the authorities and local leaders tell them to raise the issue with the rail authorities to slow down the fog near this Phatak under Dussehra, but no one has listened,” said a local.

Another said that people could not hear the sound of the nearest train due to cracking of firecrackers.

Amritsar Police Commissioner S Sivastava said it was a big rush because of the Dussehra celebration and necessary actions were to be taken.

A state grief has been declared tomorrow, and all offices and educational institutions will remain closed in Punjab.

Amarinder Singh ordered a request for the event and set up a crisis management team for its cabinet colleagues.

“I am currently not aware of the reasons for this Ravana effigy next to a railway station. The administration will look at it,” he said.

Singh, who planned to leave Israel tonight, has shot his journey and will fly to Amritsar on Saturday morning.

He announced compensation for Rs five lakh for each deceased’s relative and free treatment for the injured.

Additional police forces have been rushed to the scene to check the situation.

The event sent shock waves across the country. It was a fatigue of grief with President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore and several other leaders who condoned the loss of life.

Modi announced Rs 2 lakh replacement for the death family and Rs 50,000 for the injured. He also instructed officials to provide immediate help.

“Extremely sad of the Amritsar train accident. The tragedy is heartbreaking,” tweeted him.

“My deepest compassion to the families of those who lost their close and I pray for the injured to recover quickly. Have asked officials to provide immediate assistance as required,” he said.

State Secretary for Railways Manoj Sinha and senior railway personnel rushed to place while Rail Minister Piyush Goyal, who had gone to the United States, has canceled all his engagements there and returns.

Former Prime Minister Parkash Singh Badal demanded a request from a high judge to determine responsibility and punish the guilty parties.

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