Speeding train kills 60 worshippers at Hindu festival of Dussehra

An angry crowd shout slogans as they sit by bodies of victims of a train accident in Amritsar India Friday Oct. 19 2018.                        Prabhjot Gill  AP

Shatrughan Das, an injured 35-year-old factory worker, said he was sitting close to the tracks watching the fireworks. Head Constable Amritpal Singh said, "They were pelting stones".

A large number of villagers rushed to the site after the accident and condemned railway authorities for not taking precautions in view of the festival.

Neither the organisers nor the police administration had barricaded the tracks to stop people from venturing onto them, preliminary investigations have revealed. The Punjab Police has deployed its personnel, including commandoes, to manage the crowd.

Senior railway officials said that there was no way in which the railways could have averted the accident. The mishap took place near the Joda Phatak in Choura Bazar area of AMritsar where locals had gathered in numbers to attend the Dussehra celebrations on Friday. Police are also making an announcement on loudspeakers asking people to remain inside their houses.

Punjab state governor VP Singh Badnore said: "Those who need to be punished will be punished and accountability will be fixed". The locals were raising slogans against the state government and demanding action against the train's driver.

Protesters had warned that they would not let any train pass on the route unless their demands were met.

"We are announcing a magisterial probe into the incident", Singh told reporters. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has ordered an inquiry into the accident. "Moreover, nobody had applied for the permission with the Amritsar Municipal Corporation", said Amritsar Municipal Corporation Commissioner Sonali Giri.

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The country is home to hundreds of railway crossings that are unmanned and particularly accident prone, with people often ignoring oncoming train warnings. The railway said that it had no intimation of the Dusshera event near the railway tracks.

But federal junior minister for Indian Railways ruled out any punitive action against his staff, including the driver, saying the national carrier was not at fault.

Dozens of people are feared killed after a train ran into a crowd in northern India, according to local media reports and a local politician.

The event was reportedly organised by Saurabh Madan, husband of Congress Councillor Vijay Madan.

Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier expressed grief over the loss of lives in Amritsar train accident.

"Nobody was given the permission for organising the Dussehra event".

R.C. Yadav, former chairman of Punjab state's Workers Welfare Board, said that numerous 60 killed and dozens injured when a speeding train ran over a crowd celebrating the Hindu festival of Dussehra on Friday night had left their families in neighboring states to work in factories and shops in Punjab.

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