AMRITSAR: Local people blocking rail tracks to protest against a train accident that claimed 59 lives last Friday clashed with the police on Sunday and threw stones at security personnel after they were removed from the tracks and train services, suspended since the mishap, resumed.
The police cleared a section of the railway tracks near Joda Phatak, which had been blocked by agitators in protest against the accident, in which a train mowed down people watching Dussehra celebrations.
The protesters started throwing stones and indulged in brick-batting minutes after security forces removed them from the tracks. In the stone-pelting some people, including security personnel and a photojournalist, were injured.
The protesters raised slogans against the state government and demanded the resignation of Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu. They also raised slogans against the district administration, claiming that some persons were still missing after the accident, and demanded that the missing persons be traced and adequate compensation be given to the families of the victims.
Angry locals had warned that they would not let any train pass on the route unless their demands were met.
The Railways decided to run an empty train on the route before resuming regular services. The railway crossing was closed and Punjab Police, Punjab Commandos, and Rapid Action Force personnel were deployed to maintain law and order. The administration imposed Section 144 of CrPC after some Shiv Sena activists from Patiala reach the railway tracks.
The protesters also threw stones at the residences of the organizers of the Dussehra event. The local councillor, Vijay Madan, and her son Sourabh Madan Mithu are missing and their house is locked. The situation in the area is tense.
Shops near Joda Phatak remained closed.
Northern Railways spokesperson Deepak Kumar said, “First goods train started from Manawala to Amritsar at 1416 hours and will be followed by mail and express trains.’’
ADGP to conduct probe into mishap
Punjab Director General of Police Suresh Arora said on Sunday that Additional Director General of Police (Railways) Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota will conduct an inquiry into the Amritsar train accident to fix responsibility for the same. Arora said the probe had been ordered because there had been negligence on the part of someone and liability needed to be fixed. He said Sahota would personally conduct the inquiry to ensure that the guilty are brought to book. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has already ordered a magisterial probe.