AMRITSAR: Recounting the horrific incident in which 61 people died and 72 sustained injuries, the eyewitness says that the scenes from the accident are reminiscent of 'Partition'.
The train driver who was detained by the police for interrogation has pled innocence claiming that he was given 'green signal'. Meanwhile, Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu asked to not politicise the tragedy.
An eyewitness Pawan Kumar, who lives in the area near the accident site said that the scenes he saw on Friday evening were reminiscent of ones witnessed during the Partition of the country when millions of people lost their lives in the violence. "I could not sleep the whole night, there were body parts, heads, legs, hearts on the rail track. It was a scene I will remember whole of my life. We just rushed the injured people to the hospital. My brother got injured in the incident, his right leg is fractured, but thank god he is safe,'' he said.
There is lot of anger among the people. The people have shut their shops in the area and everyone is engaging in rescue work which in the small bylanes of Krishana Nagar locality which is adjacent to the rail track where this incident took place.
"The disaster was over in 10 to 15 seconds,'' said eyewitnesses. Gagandeep Singh who run a shop in the same area could not speak for minute, "I have not anyone of my family but in our area in very Gali (lane) families have lost their loved ones. The scenes which I saw yesterday night and today morning. Reminds of partition, as my father use to narrate those horrific stories that trains use to come from Lahore of full of dead bodies. Gere also yesterday It was similar scene as people were dead and cut into pieces by the train.''
Local residents lamented that they have been requesting the local authorities and their elected representatives to talk with the railways and make sure trains are slowed down near this section of the track during Dussehra. "But no one has listened," they say.
Seven of the 72-odd people injured in a train accident near here were in critical condition. "Among the injured, the condition of seven people continues to remain critical. The injured had been admitted to seven hospitals," an official said. Thirty-nine of the 61 people killed in the train accident here had been identified so far. The post-mortem examination on 29 bodies has been done.
Punjab Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu who visited the civil hospital here to meet the bereaved families said the accident was an outcome of negligence and that it was not motivated and asserted that his wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu immediately rushed to the hospital to attend to victims and at present one should not indulge in political mudslinging. "This is not the time to indulge in political blaming. An accident should not turn political."
"This is a very unfortunate incident. These people had come here to celebrate a festival and this tragedy had taken away loved ones of many families. It is important to understand that this was an accident. There were people standing on the railway track and some were sitting on the stones around it. When the Ravan effigy was burnt, a few more people stepped back and came towards the railway track. The train came at a high speed and no horns were heard due to crackers. This was negligence and no one actually had an intent or motive of it to happen, " he said.
Sidhu's wife Navjot Kaur was the chief guest at the Dushehra event where the incident took place. She and the organiser, area councillor's son Mithu Madan, could not be seen after the tragedy, thus there is lot of anger in the local people of the area against them. The Punjab Police and Railway Police today questioned the driver of the train that crushed at least 61 people to death here. Sources said that the DMU (diesel multiple unit) driver had been detained at the Ludhiana railway station and was being questioned regarding the incident.
The driver claimed that he was given the green signal and all clear and had no idea that people were standing on the tracks. No action has so far been initiated against the organizers of the Dusshera event, who are leaders of the ruling Congress as they have gone underground. The railway linemen posted along the tracks near the Jora Phatak area who failed to inform the DMU driver regarding the presence of over revelers.