‘People’s negligence’, says Centre, clears railways for Amritsar train tragedy that killed 61

November 22, 2018

In the Amritsar train tragedy that took place on the night of Dusshera in which 61 people died, the Chief Commissioner of Railway Safety (CCRS) SK Pathak has given a clean chit to the railways.

The inquiry conducted by the CCRS put the onus of the tragedy on the people who had collected there, saying, “the reason for the accident is negligence of persons reportedly standing on and near the railway tracks witnessing Dusshera Mela at Dhobi Ghat.”

The report classifies the accident as an “Error in working by public near Railway line”.

In its inquiry report, the CCRS also recommended that “prior intimation to railway administration be given by the district administration/organisers to hold big events like mela/rally so that railway can take proper precautions in consultation with stakeholders.”

The inquiry report also recommended that the “Government Railway Police (GRP) and Railway Protection Force (RPF) should hold regular meetings with state police and get updates on all such events where large gathering is expected near track and railway should proactively impose caution/speed restriction at such locations/sections.”

It recommended that the state and railway administration should work together to impart railway safety training on similar lines as the road safety training imparted to children at schools.

It also suggested that interactions with locomotive drivers who have witnessed tragic accidents on the railway track be organised as these “go a long way in leaving a lasting impression on the minds of youngsters. These experiments have been very successful in some countries in driving the point home in target groups.”

The unfortunate incident in Amritsar had taken place on October 19 at the Joda Phatak area, where a crowd of nearly 1,000 people had collected to watch the fireworks. As the Ravana effigy was set alight, the organisers of the mela had asked the people gathered there to move back.

The crowd had spilled over to the railway tracks. Amid the shadow of the flame, the noise from the crackers and general bustle, no one saw or heard the Jalandhar-Amritsar DMU train approaching. The train which was travelling at a considerable speed had ploughed through the people collected there leaving 61 people dead and 143 injured.

Eyewitnesses had said that minutes before the Jalandhar-Amritsar DMU, the Amritsar-Howrah train had crossed the spot. Had the two trains crossed at the same time, casualties could have been far higher.

Source : Hindustan Times

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