Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today ordered a magisterial enquiry into the Amritsar mishap in which 59 people were killed and several others injured when two trains speeding in opposite directions mowed down people standing on the tracks near a railway crossing. The victims were watching a Ravan effigy being burnt at a Dussehra celebration.
The Chief Minister, who visited the injured in the hospital, sought a report within four weeks. After meeting the families of the victims, he ordered an immediate release of Rs 3 crore to the Amritsar district collectorate for payment of compensation to the family of the deceased. Complying with the directions, the Chief Minister’s Office has issued RTGS (Real Time Gross Settlement) instructions to the bank concerned.
At least 300 spectators were present at the Dhobi Ghat ground, barely 2 km from the Amritsar station, when the incident took place. Many of them stood on the tracks close to the Jaura Phatak crossing to get a better view and were taking videos of the burning Ravan as the first of the trains, 74643 Jalandhar-Amritsar DMU, ran them over. The second train, the 13006 Amritsar-Howrah Express, sped past seconds later and some of those who had jumped on the second set of tracks to escape the first were caught under it.
Railway Board chairman Ashwani Lohani rushed to the spot while the state government announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 5 lakh as compensation to the next of kin of those who were killed. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on the other hand, announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh for the family of the dead and Rs 50,000 for the injured. He also directed officials to provide immediate assistance. The state government has also declared Saturday a day of mourning in the state. Offices and educational institutions will remain shut.
Following the accident, the railways cancelled 37 trains, diverted 16 trains, short terminated 12 trains and short originated six trains on the route Railway authorities have said that the tragedy was not their responsibility as the organisers and local authorities had not informed them about the event being held so close to the railway tracks.