Published: Mon, October 22, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Amritsar Train Tragedy: Protests for tracing missing persons, compensation for victims

Amritsar Train Tragedy: Protests for tracing missing persons, compensation for victims

R.C. Yadav, former chairman of Punjab state's Workers Welfare Board, said that numerous 60 killed and dozens injured when a speeding train ran over a crowd celebrating the Hindu festival of Dussehra on Friday night had left their families in neighboring states to work in factories and shops in Punjab.

Numerous victims were dismembered beyond recognition and police said it would take several days to complete the identification of the dead. "People should refrain from organising such events near tracks in future", Union Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha had said on Saturday.

As per the officers, the post-mortem examination of 29 bodies has been done until now.

Railway Board chairman Ashwani Lohani had also ruled out any statutory inquiry into the incident, saying it was a case of trespass on rail tracks. The train was in such speed that the accident happened in split seconds. Would it have been logically possible for us to throw stones at the train when we were in such a state of shock when there were so many people lying dead and injured around us? "The Commission conducts statutory investigation into railway accidents".

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amrinder Singh announced an ex gratia payment of Rs. 5 lakh to the victims' families and free medical treatment to injured in government and private hospitals. There was no lapse on our part and no action against the driver will be initiated.

"His Dussehra committee had asked for permission to hold the event, for which we gave a conditional no-objection certificate that becomes applicable only after you get the corporation's nod", said Deputy Commissioner of Police AS Powar.

Earlier on Sunday morning, protesters clashed with the police at Jodha Fatak - the scene of the tragedy - after the latter came down to remove a blockade that had halted train services.

"The government has not bothered for us who have lost family members".

Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh called off a trip to Israel and rushed to visit the injured in hospital, where he ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident.

"Everyone was running helter-skelter and suddenly the train crashed into the crowds of people", he said.

The government has pledged 137 billion over five years to modernise the crumbling network. Many killed were migrants from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Will people who are seeing their loved ones lying in pools of blood leave them and pick up stones to hit the train?

"They're (protesters) pelting stones".

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