Dussehra celebrations turn bloody as train mows down revelers. At least 50 dead

For scores of revelers gathered to see the Ravana  going down on Dussehra, it was a bloody nightmare as two passing trains on the Up and Down train resulted in utter chaos mowed into the public and crushed at least 50 people to death on the spot.

Dussehra celebrations and the traditional Ravana dahan were organized as usual this year too near railway gate in Amritsar some 150meters from the railway tracks by the City Dussehra Committee. According to a reliable railway source, with the railway tracks beings on a higher ground, the public gathered around the tracks to view the ceremony. When the DMU train arrived on the Up track, the crowd moved to the parallel Down track. Suddenly the Jalandhar-Amritsar Express too arrived on the Down track, about the same time as the Ravana went up in the flames. Sounds of the oncoming train were drowned by the firecrackers that were set off with the lighting of the Ravana and the train, in high speed, crashed headlong into the public gathered at the spot, crushing at least 50 people on the spot and leaving several scores grievously injured.

Railway officials have stated that due to a curve of the track at the point, the train was not visible to the public lost in the revelry, till the very last minute when the train was almost upon them.

Eyewitness accounts state wife of Congress leader and former cricketer, Navjot Kaur Siddhu , Local Body Minister,  who was to inaugurate the event, arrived late for the event and the function was delayed, clashing with the timing of the two oncoming trains. A distressed Mrs. Sidhu speaking to the media said the function was organized at the traditional Ramleela ground as always and pleaded with political parties not to make capital of the tragedy and work to provide relief to the affected. She has denied leaving the event in a hurry in the wake of the tragedy, as has been alleged by Opposition parties who are now baying for the blood of Navjot  Kaur, wife of Navjot Singh Siddhu and putting the blame for the tragedy squarely on her  delayed arrival at the event.

According to media reports Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh has ordered a  probe into Amritsar train mishap, mobilizes recue and relief.  The CM will reach tomorrow to assess situation. Two cabinet ministers, top bureaucrats, DGP rushed to mishap site to supervise rescue and relief efforts.

With inputs from Shirin Abbas

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