On ill-fated Friday evening, Dussehra revelry turned into a tragedy as nearly 60 were killed and several injured after two trains mowed down around 150 people who stood on the railway tracks watching the effigy of burning Ravana near Amritsar. A series of accusations, calls for probes, demands for apologies and announcements of compensations were reported as new updates kept surfacing on Saturday, providing detailed insights into the cause and magnitude of the tragedy.
According to estimates, around 300 spectators were present at the Dhobi Ghat ground, which is almost a couple of kilometers away from the Amritsar railway station. While the Dussehra revelers stood on the ground, witnessing the symbolic victory of good over evil in the fall of Ravana’s effigy, train no. 74643 Jalandhar-Amritsar DMU ran over those, who chose to come on the tracks to get a better view of the fireworks. Before the survivors could grasp a sense of what had happened, a second train- Amritsar-Howrah Express sped past the railway tracks mowing down people who had jumped on the second set of tracks to escape the incoming disaster.
58 of the 59 people killed in the train accident have been identified so far, officials said Saturday. The bodies of four other persons, who belonged to Uttar Pradesh, have been sent to their hometowns by the district administration.
Most of the people who attended the celebrations were migrant labourers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar who settled in Punjab for earning a livelihood, dabbling in small-time occupations like sanitary workers, wood polish workers, gardeners, painters among others.