Published: Mon, October 22, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Train services partially resume in Amritsar; protesters booked

Train services partially resume in Amritsar; protesters booked

Under fire from the opposition, Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Sunday questioned the railways' decision to exonerate the driver of the train that ploughed through a crowd standing on the track to watch a Ravan effigy burn in the Joda Phatak area of Amritsar on Dussehra.

Ordering the inquiry, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh described the incident as "absolutely tragic".

Punjab Chief Minister and Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu outside the Guru Nanak Hospital in Amritsar.

The people were watching the proceedings from the live railway tracks when the Jalandhar-Amritsar DMU (diesel multiple unit) train crushed them. Arora said the probe had been ordered because there had been negligence on the part of someone and liability needed to be fixed.

Was permission granted for the event?

However, Darshan was just one of the 30 drivers associated with the local Bebe Nanaki Society, which arranged 30 ambulances from in and around Amritsar to carry the bodies from the accident site to the mortuaries at the civil and Guru Nanak Dev hospitals and then to the crematoriums. "Moreover, nobody had applied for the permission with the Amritsar Municipal Corporation", said Amritsar Municipal Corporation Commissioner Sonali Giri.

Women mourn the death of a relative after a commuter train traveling at high speed ran through a crowd of people on the rail tracks, outside a hospital in Amritsar, India, on October 20, 2018. He said while the number of injured could vary, as some had been given first aid and discharged, but as on Saturday evening, 61 were undergoing treatment at various hospitals in the district.

Railway board chairman Ashwani Lohani said the railways had not been informed about the event and stressed that the tragedy did not occur at a level crossing. They also said that it would be wrong to blame the railways for this incident, adding that those watching the celebrations should be more alert.

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Unconfirmed reports said that Khashoggi was likely killed inside the compound, which were denied by Saudi officials as "baseless". He visited the Saudi Consulate on October 2 to obtain documents related to his upcoming wedding, but he was never seen leaving.

Onlookers rubbished the driver's claims and said the train did not slow down anywhere near the spot.

"Why did the government not ensure proper security?"

Shops were shut across Amritsar, to mourn the victims of the latest disaster to hit the railways, one of the most deadly in years.

"When you stop (the train) for cow, you even get an FIR registered if someone is found sitting on a track".

Bikram Singh Majitha, a leader of the regional Akali Dal party, said the effigy burning usually happens at sunset, not later. The protesters demanded that the missing person be traced and also adequate compensation be given to the families of the victims.

The railways, on the other hand, have simply pointed to the law and said that the people who died are "trespassers". "My deepest condolences to those who have lost family and loved ones", Guterres said in a tweet.

Manoj Sinha, federal junior minister for Indian Railways, ruled out any punitive action against his staff, including the driver.

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