Amritsar train accident: Railways says ‘clear case of trespassing’, may not announce compensation


Team Udayavani, Oct 20, 2018, 10:12 AM IST

New Delhi: The gathering of people close to tracks near Amritsar where a train mowed down Dussehra revellers was a “clear case of trespassing” and no permission for the event had been given by the railways, a senior official told PTI.

Seeking to shift the blame for the tragedy on the Amritsar administration, official sources said the local authorities were aware about the Dussehra programme and that it was attended by a senior minister’s wife.

“We’re not kept in the loop and we provided no permission for the event. It is a clear case of trespassing and the local administration should take responsibility,” the railway official said.

Amid questions being raised in some quarters about why the train did not stop despite such a large crowd being there, the official said, “There was so much smoke that the driver was unable to see anything and he was also negotiating a curve.”

“However, railways’ entire machinery is at the spot and we are cooperating with local administration is rescue and relief operations” the official added.

Speaking to reporters, Railway Board chairman Ashwani Lohani said, “It’s a very sad incident. This is a main track on which trains run at an assigned speed. The driver blew the horn and tried to apply the brakes, but the train needs 625 metres to come to a halt and the driver could not stop the train.”

At least 58 people, including women and children, died and more than 40 were injured after the train coming from Jalandhar to Amritsar ran over a crowd standing across the tracks to watch the Dussehra celebration.

MoS Manoj Sinha, Chairman Railway Board Ashwani Lohani and top officials took off from Delhi on Friday night. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, who is in the US, is returning.

“As per initial information, people present near the railway track couldn’t hear the sound of the approaching train due bursting crackers,” Sinha told reporters in Delhi before boarding an Indian Air Force plane for Amritsar.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved Rs 2 lakh for the family of the dead and Rs 50,000 for the injured.

Railways has also issued helpline numbers 0183-2223171, 0183-2564485.

Railway officials also said they were unlikely to compensate the family of the dead as they were not passengers. “Any information on the dead and injured has to come from the district magistrate, not us. We are cooperating with them at all levels,” the senior official said.

The accidents comes days after five people died and around 35 injured after five coaches and the engine of the New Farakka Express (Train No. 14003) derailed near Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh on October 12.

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