|Amritsar tragedy: Train driver is lying, say eyewitnesses; slam statements|
AMRITSAR: Several eye-witnesses have slammed the locomotive driver's statement in the Amritsar train incident that mowed down 61 onlookers and injured over 50 people participating in the Dusshera revelries on Friday evening.
"I was at the spot. Leave alone stopping, the train did not even slow down. It seemed as if the driver wanted to mow us down. The train passed us in a matter of seconds. Is it logically possible for us to pelt stones at the train when so many people were dead and injured around us? Is it possible for us to get our bearings after such an incident and pelt stones at a speeding train? The driver is lying," Shailender Singh Shally, Councillor, Ward Number 46, Amritsar, said.
The clean-up operation, which resumed on Sunday evening, continued at the site – on Monday morning.
Locals, who have been protesting against the accident, claimed that the people celebrating Dussehra at the accident spot had pelted stones at the train.
"He did not even slow down, let alone almost stopping. The train was in such speed that the accident happened in split seconds. There are hundreds of videos that show how fast the train went. There was no chance of us reacting, leave alone pelt stones. All we could hear around us was people screaming and crying," Paramjeet Singh, another onlooker, said.
Arvind Kumar, the driver of the train which crushed 61 people to death, said that he knew that people were killed but had to keep driving for the safety of the passengers. In his statement, the driver said that he applied the emergency brakes while continuously honking yet some people came under the train.
"I saw a crowd of people around the track. I immediately applied emergency brakes while continuously blowing the horn. Still some people came under it. The train was about to stop when people started pelting stones, so I started the train for the safety of the passengers," the train driver said.
Speaking on the incident, Minister of State for Railways, Manoj Sinha, said, “I believe that the statement of Amritsar Police Commissioner must be an authorised statement of Punjab government. He said that we (Railways) didn't give any permission regarding the event.”
The maximum speed of the train, which was a Diesel Electrical Multiple Unit (DEMU) is 96 kmph, once brakes are applied, this kind of train stops completely in about 300 metres if empty, and in 600 metres if full, officials said. The last recorded speed of the train, according to Divisional Railway Manager (Ferozpur) Vivek Kumar, was 68 kmph, reported PTI.
"As the train passed, I heard people screaming and shouting. There was no stone pelting. I don't understand why the driver would make up such a thing. Will people who are seeing their loved ones lying in pools of blood leave them and pick up stones to hit the train?
"Anyway, the speed of the train was such that even if people wanted to pelt stones, by the time they collected them, the train would have disappeared from sight. He is lying," Ajay Goenka, who was present at the spot, said.
Local police too corroborated the claims of the eyewitnesses and said that not just the train was travelling at a high speed, there were no reports of stone pelting at the site of the incident on October 19.
After more than 40 hours on Sunday of the Amritsar train accident in Punjab, the train services resumed on Sunday after the Punjab police removed protesters from the railway tracks.