An eyewitness receives an interview near the site of a train accident near Amritsar, northern state of Punjab, India, on Oct. 20, 2018. Eyewitnesses still remember the horror of the mishap wherein a passengers train mowed over more than one hundred people on Friday, killing around 61 and injuring almost an equal number at the annual Dussehra festival in India's northern city of Amritsar. (Xinhua/Zhang Naijie)
by Pankaj Yadav
AMRITSAR, India, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) -- Eyewitnesses still remember the horror of the mishap wherein a passengers train mowed over more than one hundred people on Friday, killing around 61 and injuring almost an equal number at the annual Dussehra festival in India's northern city of Amritsar.
Balwinder Singh, 41, whose house is located just next to the railway tracks, said it all happened within a couple of seconds.
"I, along with my wife, children and relatives, was standing on the rooftop of my house watching the Dussehra festivities, including burning of the Ravana effigy, when suddenly this train ran through the crowds standing on the railway tracks. No one could see the approaching train as everyone was keen on watching the festivities," he said.
People were ran over by the train running at a high speed while they witnessed festivities standing on railway tracks, and fell victim without realizing the approaching of the train amidst loud sounds of crackers.
Dussehra is a Hindu festival marking the triumph of good over evil. Effigies are burnt and fireworks are set off as part of the festival in north India.
Further describing the mishap, Singh added " We ran down and reached the spot, but could not think what to do. We were all bewildered. We were in a state of utter shock."
His wife Sarita Singh said, "It was a sight of horror and disbelief. There were human limbs and blood scattered all around the railway tracks. We could not believe for the next few minutes as to what had happened. I saw dead bodies, cut limbs of children, women, and men."
She said that just before this tragedy struck, one person in their immediate neighbourhood was appealing to all those standing on railway tracks to move away, but he himself got trapped in front of the train and died. "He is survived by an infant daughter," Sarita added.
Balwinder's niece Manpreet Kumari said that she was insisting on going on to the railway tracks to have a closer look of the festivities, but she was stopped by her uncle. "Had I gone there to have a closer look of the festivities, I too might have got killed. I am still not able to come to terms with whatever happened last night just in front of my eyes," she said.
Meanwhile, State Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has instituted an inquiry into the tragedy, the report of which is expected to come in four weeks.
"We will fix the responsibility on the culprits on the basis of the report of the probe, and thereafter we will take a suitable action against them. At this juncture we do not want to indulge in any blame game," said the chief minister.
Condolence messages over the tragedy came from different countries.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted "Saddened to learn of the tragic train accident in Amritsar, India. Condolences go to the families of the deceased." Amritsar shares border with Pakistan.
In his message to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin said "I offer my deepest sympathies over tragic consequences of an accident on railways in Punjab. I ask to convey my words of sympathy & support to families & friends of killed people & to wish soonest recovery to those injured."