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Saturday, August 08, 2020

22 killed, 5 hurt as vehicle carrying Sikhs rams into train in Pakistan

The local administration said that the coaster minibus in which they were travelling, from Sri Nankana Sahib to Peshawar, rammed into a train near Farooqabad.

By: Express News Service | Ludhiana | Updated: July 4, 2020 4:01:04 am
Sheikhupura: People gather at the spot where a bus carrying Sikh pilgrims was hit by a train in Sheikhupura district in Pakistan’s Punjab, Friday, July 3, 2020. (PTI)

At least 22 people were killed and five injured after their vehicle rammed into a train near Farooqabad in Sheikhupura district of Punjab province in Pakistan Friday.

The local administration said that the coaster minibus in which they were travelling, from Sri Nankana Sahib to Peshawar, rammed into a train near Farooqabad. While the railway crossing was closed as the train was awaited, the driver allegedly tried to cross tracks from another spot, and the vehicle rammed into the coming train. All of them were Pakistan nationals and hailed from Peshawar. They had come to Nankana Sahib to attend prayers after a relative of theirs had died and also visited Nankana Sahib gurdwara. They were returning to Peshawar via Farooqabad where they had planned to stop over at Gurdwara Sacha Sauda.

Those injured were taken to hospitals in Sheikhupura and Lahore. (Express photo)

Imran Gondal, deputy secretary, shrines, Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), Pakistan, told The Indian Express, “Twenty-two persons died in the tragic accident, comprising 20 members of Sikh community and two local Muslims (one local driver of the vehicle and his helper). Five others were injured.” He added that among 22 deceased, 11 were males, 10 females and one 4-year old girl child.

Satwant Singh, president, Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC), told The Indian Express, “A group of Sikh community members from Peshawar were visiting Nankana Sahib after one of their relatives, Raghbir Singh, had died some days back. His last prayer meet wasn’t held then as gatherings were not allowed. Now the family had organised Sukhmani Sahib path and relatives from Peshawar came to attend that. They also visited Nankana Sahib gurdwara and decided to visit Gurdwara Sacha Sauda in Farooqabad on the way before returning to Peshawar. On the way, their vehicle rammed into the train.”

Ghazi Salahuddin, district police officer, Sheikhupura, in a statement to the media, said, “In the tragic accident, we lost many precious lives from Sikh community and they had come to Nankana Sahib from Peshawar. They had come to Nankana on Wednesday where they had to attend prayer meeting of a relative who had died. Today they were returning from Nankana to Peshawar via Farooqabad where they wanted to visit Gurdwara Sacha Sauda. They were traveling in three vehicles. Of the three, two vehicles safely crossed from another railway crossing but the third vehicle took another route and came to this spot where the accident happened. Here the crossing was closed as a train’s arrival was awaited. Prima facie, it seems that the bus driver was in a great hurry and he tried to cross the railway tracks from a kutcha route, which was at some distance from the closed crossing and the train was nearby. Soon the train came and the bus rammed into it. Twenty-seven persons were traveling in the coaster bus. Bodies were removed from tracks and arrangements were being made to send them to Peshawar.”

Sheikhupura Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Asghar Joiya said the deceased consisted of 11 men, 10 women and a girl child. “Rest of the injured were shifted to hospitals in Sheikhupura and Lahore. The incident is also being probed by the Railways to reach details and cause of it,” he said to the media. Bishan Singh, ex-president, PSGPC, who visited the hospital in Sheikhupura where victims were rushed, said, “Twenty-two persons died including the local driver. The driver tried to cross the tracks even as the train was awaited. The railway crossing was closed but he tried to sneak in the vehicle from another spot at some distance and the train arrived. Two critically injured persons have been shifted to a hospital in Lahore. There are some 400 Sikh families living in Peshawar and they were visiting Nankana Sahib.” Meanwhile, a statement from Pakistan Railways said that a three-member committee was formed to probe the incident and one official on duty was suspended.

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