Hours after the Amritsar train accident, Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani on Saturday, October 20 said it would be wrong to say that the Railways is responsible for the tragic incident, adding that people need to be more alert.
Speaking to ANI, Mr Lohani said that the Railways administration was not informed about the Dussehra celebrations taking place near the main line. He said that the two manned level-crossing on the track, where the accident took place, was closed.
"It would be wrong to say that Railways is responsible for this accident. There are two manned level-crossing on that track, both were close. It is the main line and there is no speed restriction there," he saod, adding that the Railway administration was not informed about the Dussehra celebration near mainline. People were watching Dussehra celebrations from railway tracks.
"People need to be more alert; they must not trespass on railway tracks," he added.
Punjab Governor VP Singh Badnore called the incident "unfortunate" and ensured that proper medical aid is being provided to all those injured.
"This is a very unfortunate incident. An inquiry will be done and those who need to be punished will be punished and accountability will be fixed. I am here to ensure that proper medical aid is provided to the injured," Mr. Badnore said.
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday, October 19 had set up a Crisis Management Group to monitor the relief and rehabilitation efforts in wake of the tragic train accident in Amritsar.
The group, led by Health Minister Brahm Mohindra and comprising Revenue Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria and Technical Education Minister Charanjit Singh Channi immediately rushed to the accident site to assess and tackle the situation.
State mourning has also been declared on October 20, and all offices and educational institutions will remain closed in view of the tragedy, an official spokesperson of the Punjab government said.
Relief and rehabilitation efforts have been mounted by the state government on a war footing, with all the necessary administrative and police personnel ordered the Chief Minister to be mobilised. The injured are undergoing emergency treatment in various government and private hospitals across Amritsar.
The accident took place in Choura Bazar near Joda Phatak area of Amritsar where a large number of people were watching the Ravana effigy in flames while standing along the railway tracks when a Jalandhar to Amritsar train crushed them. 60 people have lost their lives in the accident while 51 others have sustained injuries.
The public gathering standing on the track reportedly could not hear the hooting of the train due to the sound of the exploding firecrackers. Punjab Chief Minister immediately ordered an investigation into the incident and directed senior officials to rush to the accident spot, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh for the families of those killed in the Amritsar train tragedy. He also announced a compensation of Rs. 50,000 for the injured.