The death toll of the people watching the effigy of Ravan while standing on railway tracks in Amritsar has now gone up to 61. Following the ghastly incident as many as 37 trains had been cancelled and as many as 16 diverted according to media reports.
The railways maintains it had no information about the Dussehra function held near the tracks. The train was coming from Jalandhar when the accident occurred at Joda Phatak near Amritsar, where at least 300 people were watching ‘Ravana dahan’ at a ground adjacent to the tracks.
Chairman Railway Board Ashwani Lohani said in a statement that the accident occurred at a midsection between the Amritsar and Manawala stations and not at a level crossing.
“There was no information and no permission sought from us. The event took place at a place adjoining the railway land in private property,” he said.
“At midsections trains run at their assigned speeds and people are not expected to be on the tracks At midsections there is no railway staff posted.
“We have staff at the level crossings whose job is to regulate traffic,” he added, explaining why the railways was not alerted about the congregation by its staff.
According to Lohani, the gateman was 400 metres away at a level crossing. If the driver had applied emergency breaks, there could have been a bigger tragedy, he said.