Had rules been followed, many would have lived

A man cries as he stands next to the burning pyre of a family member who died after a train traveling at high speed ran through a crowd of people on the rail tracks on Friday, at a cremation ground in Amritsar on Saturday. REUTERS

The Amritsar train accident, in which 61 lives were lost in less than a minute, possibly could have been averted, or at least restricted, had the authorities not acted ‘negligently’.

A day later, Punjab local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu ‘admitted’ to negligence.

The railway authorities were not informed by the civil administration of any such Dusherra celebration taking place near the railway tracks.

Had that been the case, the movement of the train on the track could have been slowed or attempts could have been made to ensure that the tracks remain clear of festival revelers.

The district administration on its part pleads innocence saying that no permission was sought from them for conducting the event.

Meanwhile, the GRP on Saturday registered a case against unknown persons while initiating a probe.

Interestingly, this was the 29th time the venue was selected for Dusherra celebrations by the organisers.

Notwithstanding this, the railway staff which was just a few hundred meter away from the venue did not respond proactively by alerting the senior railway officials of any temporary obstruction that was likely to be caused due to the heavy congregation of people so close to the railway tracks.

This inaction blocked any possibility of a rapid response to clear the track.

The possibility of cordoning off a section of the railway track too could not be executed as all ends arguably failed to act responsibly.

The event organisers, too, did not have the permission from the local municipal corporation for the event.

In any case, permission would not have been granted for such a celebration, involving use of fire, close to the railway tracks.

Sources said that only the local police were aware of the event since it was expected to have VIP’s including Navjot Kaur Sidhu, wife of cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu.

Kaur was the chief guest on the occasion. There were also no ambulances or fire tenders at the spot.

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Had rules been followed, many would have lived

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