Amritsar train accident: Locals continue protest, demand action against driver

Relatives mourn at the site of a train accident in Amritsar. Officials said at least 60 bodies have been found and many more injured have been admitted to a government hospital

A large crowd had formed near the tracks on the city's fringe to effigies as part of a major Hindu festival on Friday when the train sped through the gathering in the darkness, officials and witnesses said.

Suraj Prakash, another eyewitness, said that a few minutes before the Jalamdhar-Amritsar train mowed down several people, another train going to Howarh from Amritsar passed through on another track, but it did not hurt anyone.

Doctors at Civil Hospital and Guru Nanak Hospital said 39 bodies have been identified.

Amarinder Singh, the chief minister of Punjab, the state where the accident took place, announced compensation of 500,000 Indian rupees ($6,815) for those who lost family members and free treatment for those injured in the accident.

"Action will be taken against those responsible for the tragedy once the inquiry report comes", he said.

Madaan said that the empty plot where he had organised the Dussehra event was used each year for the celebrations.

"Extremely saddened by the train accident in Amritsar".

Sidhu was also accused of fleeing the accident site without any regard for the victims of the accident. Within seconds, the second train, the 13006 Amritsar-Howrah Express, caught those who had jumped on the second track to save them.

The railways has maintained that it was not at fault because it had no information about the Dussehra event.

India's huge railway network is notorious for accidents, including scores who die while crossing the tracks illegally or falling off over-capacity trains.

The families protests came even as reports emerged that Congress leader and Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu's wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu was the chief guest at the Ravana effigy burning event. Singh said the GRP was informed by Punjab police personnel about the incident and they immediately rushed to the spot.

As the effigy was lit and the fireworks went off, there was a stampede-like situation and the onlookers started retreating towards the railway lines amid a very high noise.

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. "My son played the role of Ravana at the Ram Leela, which was held on the ground at Dhobi Ghat adjacent to Joda Phatak.he is no more.He too was run over by the train", she said.

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

A senior official in the district administration said most migrant workers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar work in an industrial area at a stone's throw away from the accident site and live nearby.

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