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PM Khan extends condolences on India's train disaster

21 October 2018

The Jalandhar-Amritsar express was traveling at 90 kilometers per hour when it hit the crowd, which had gathered on the tracks to watch a fireworks display marking the Hindu festival of Dussehra.

Data from parliament in July showed that 49,790 people were killed by trains in India between 2015 and 2017. Seeking job for the widow of Dalbir Singh, his mother said that the state government should give her a government job so that the family could sustain their livelihood.

The railway accident was India's worst in years, but the junior minister who manages Indian Railways, the world's fourth largest rail system, refused to accept responsibility. It was also the responsibility of the local superintendent of the police who deployed police officials to escort the VVIPs, Sidhu, sources said.

On Sunday, relatives and locals gathered at the accident site and began throwing stones at police, saying there was no help coming for the grief-stricken families.

The minister said that had the organisers sought prior permission, the Railways would have made necessary arrangements.

Punjab Police officials said that the DMU (diesel multiple unit) driver had been detained at the Ludhiana railway station and was being questioned regarding the incident that took place on Friday night at the Jora Phatak near Dhobi Ghat within Amritsar city.

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According to reports the burning of the effigy was delayed due to the late arrival of the chief guest of the event, Navjot Kaur Sidhu, wife of the Amritsar East MLA and cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu.

"The Railways was not informed about the Dusshera ceremony near the Joda Phatak vicinity either by the area administration or the event organisers", he said. He said the injured were being transported to the hospital, adding, "The government is going to bear the full cost of this". In the CCTV footage, Sourabh Madan Mithu, the person who organised the whole event can be seen escaping in an SUV. "It is too early to say anything about the accused [or] who was responsible for the mass killing on railway track", Singh told PTI.

Sporadic protests broke out near the site, with protesters calling for action against the local authorities and the train driver. The accident has claimed 59 lives so far out of which 39 bodies have been identified by the authorities.

But Kaur, whose husband, Navjyot Singh Sidhu, is a former Indian Test cricketer and now a state minister, said effigies were burned at six places in Amritsar and a lot of them were in fields near the tracks.

"This was being done despite the fact that the families were ready to present irrefutable evidence against a Congress councillor as well as Navjot Kaur Sidhu for abetting the tragedy", the party said.

PM Khan extends condolences on India's train disaster