Amritsar train accident: Man who played Ravana dies saving others

21 October, 2018, 21:29 | Author: Wade Massey
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Amritsar: The man who played the character of demon king Ravana at the Ram Leela at Joda Phatak was among those killed in the train accident.

Investigators said victims did not hear the train because the drone of the locomotive was drowned out by firecrackers. The accident has claimed 59 lives so far out of which 39 bodies have been identified by the authorities.

Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh Saturday ordered a magisterial inquiry into the accident after visiting the injured and the kin of those killed in the tragedy.

A leaked letter indicated that the organisers - the family of a local Congress councillor - had also sought security arrangements at the venue where Punjab minister Navjot Sidhu and his ex-MLA wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu were expected. Accident relief train has reached the site.

A almost 700 strong crowd watching a huge Ravana effigy go up in flames amid crackers bursts spilled on to the tracks when the Jalandhar-Amritsar Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) passenger train heading to Hoshiarpur from Amritsar came hurtling. "Nobody was given the permission for organising the Dussehra event".

Earlier in the day, Punjab Police removed protesters staging a sit-in on the tracks, demanding action against the driver and resignation of local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu.

Plying of trains on this section was stopped since Friday evening.

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However, eyewitnesses said the driver despite the presence of the crowd neither sounded a siren nor reduced the speed of the train which was hurtling down at 100 kmph, sources said.

India's state railways, largely built during British colonial rule, have long faced criticism for their safety record.

Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh also visited a local hospital and inquired about the conditions of the injured.

He alleged that Sidhu's wife Navjot Kaur was exclusively answerable for the accident as she was the chief guest at the Dussehra function and responsible for holding such a big event sans security and safety measures.

"As demon king Ravana's effigy was located very close to the railway tracks at Jaura Phatak, a section of the crowd retreated towards the tracks to watch the celebrations, nearly ignorant of standing on the tracks", local man Parminder Singh told Xinhua.

"I offer my deepest sympathies over tragic consequences of an accident on railways in the Punjab state".

Friday's accident was the worst in years but Manoj Sinha, the junior minister in charge of running the world's fourth largest rail system, said they couldn't be held responsible for people gathered on tracks. SHO of GRP railway station Amritsar Balvir Singh said the FIR has been registered against the unknown persons and names of the accused would be added in the FIR after investigation.

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