Train traffic on the Amritsar-Manawala route resumed Sunday afternoon, nearly 40 hours after 59 Dussehra revellers on the tracks were mowed down by a train Friday evening. Earlier in the day, a crowd of protesters who had been squatting on the tracks since Friday, demanding action against the train driver, clashed with police, leaving a police commando and a photojournalist injured.
After the tracks were cleared, the first goods train started at 2.16 pm hours from Manawala to Amritsar station, followed by another one at about 4 pm. An empty passenger train was also run on the section to assess the situation. The Railways is expected to resume normal train traffic by tonight.
Punjab Police said Additional Director General of Police (Railways) Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota would conduct an inquiry into the incident.
While the Railways insists that the driver was not at fault, the Congress, while denying any lapses on the part of the organisers of the Dussehra event, continues to accuse the Railways of negligence. The chief organiser of the Dussehra event, Saurabh aka Mithu Madan, continues to remain at large.
“We had permission from the police to organise the function at the Dhobi Ghat ground. It was the responsibility of the Railways to take care of any movement on the track. How is it possible that the Railways was not aware about the crowd on the tracks,” said Congress councillor Shalinder Singh Shally
Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu also questioned the “clean chit” given by the Railways to the train driver. “It was an accident and no one did it intentionally. But how can you give a clean chit to the driver overnight? You stop the train for a cow. You stop the train and get a case registered against anyone found sitting on the track. Then how can you run over such a large crowd?” Sidhu said while interacting with the media in Amritsar.
Of the 59 dead, 58 have been identified so far. A total of 62 people, including children, remain admitted in different hospitals across Amritsar.