NEW DELHI: At least 59 people were killed and 72 injured on Friday when a speeding train ran over a crowd of Dussehra revellers that had spilled onto railway tracks while watching burning of Ravana effigy. The tragedy took place at the Joda Fatak area where a large crowd had gathered to watch the fireworks. Here are the key developments:
* Chief minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday ordered a magisterial inquiry into the train accident after visiting injured and kin of those killed in the tragedy. While addressing a press conference, Singh said that he has ordered immediate release of Rs 3 crore to DC Amritsar for payment of ex-gratia to the families of the deceased.
* He said four weeks have been given to submit the report to find out who was at fault. The divisional commissioner of Jalandhar has been entrusted with the job of holding the inquiry
* The CM had on Friday announced that the government will give Rs 5 lakh to kin of each deceased and free treatment to the injured in all the government and private hospitals.
* Scores of people on Saturday staged a sit-in on the railway tracks where 59 people were mowed down by the train during Dussehra event. The protesters raised slogans against the state government and demanded action against the train driver.
* Seven of the 70-odd people injured in the train accident are in critical conditions, officials said. The injured were admitted to different hospitals in Amritsar.
* Punjab Police officials said that the DMU (diesel multiple unit) driver was detained and was being questioned regarding the incident. Sources said that the driver claimed that he was given a green signal and had no idea that hundreds of people were standing on the tracks.
* No action has, so far, been initiated against the organisers.
* The railway board has said that the gathering of people on the rail tracks was trespassing and that railways wouldn’t hold any investigation into the incident. “It would be wrong to say that railways is responsible for this accident. There are two manned level-crossing on that track, both were close. It is the main line. There is no speed restriction. The railway administration was not informed about Dussehra celebration. People were watching Dussehra celebrations from railway tracks, they need to be more alert,” railway board chairman Ashwani Lohani said.
* Due to the train accident on Amritsar-Manawala section, 10 Mail Express trains and 27 passenger trains have been cancelled; 16 trains have been diverted. 10 Mail Express trains and two passenger trains have been short terminated and 6 Mail Express trains short originated.
* Punjab Police commandos and Rapid Action Force personnel have been deployed at the site of the train accident to manage the huge crowd. A heavy police deployment has been made to keep the situation in order.
* Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who visited the Civil Hospital on Saturday morning, said, “It is a sad and an unfortunate incident. It is necessary to understand that it was an accident. There has been negligence but it was never intentional or motivated.”
* Earlier today, Punjab Governor VP Singh Badnore also visited the hospital and said that inquiry will be conducted and those who need to be punished will be punished and accountability will be fixed.
* Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday condoled the loss of lives in the train accident and directed officials to provide immediate assistance.
* All offices, educational institutions will remain shut on Saturday as Punjab has declared one-day mourning in view of the tragedy.
UN chief Antonio Guterres expressed his condolences to the families and friends who died in the accident, terming the incident as “tragic”.
(With agency inputs)