Amritsar: In a tragic turn of events, a man who essayed the role of Ravana at a Ramlila event in the city was among those killed when a train mowed down Dussehra revellers on Friday evening.
Dalbir Singh’s distraught mother, Swaran Kaur, told News18 that her son was a regular participant in Ramlila plays, but this was the first time he had played the demon king. “My son was playing Ravana’s role for the first time. He always used to act in Ramlila and had earlier played Hanuman, Ram Chandra and Laxman’s role. For yesterday’s function, Dalbir invited everyone,” she said.
Demanding justice for Dalbir, she said the government must give his widow a job. “I urge the government to provide a job to my daughter-in law. She also has an 8-month old baby… At the time of elections, parties come to us to seek help. We have also always helped them and accompanied them door to door. Now, I want justice for my son,” she said.
Dalbir’s brother Balbir said he died while trying to help others. “We had gone to celebrate Dussehra and Dalbir had gone to take his trophy (for playing Ravana). After he took his trophy, he saw the train coming and went to help people. He dragged around seven to eight people from coming under the train and accidentally his foot got stuck there. The train ran over him,” he said. “He was the sole breadwinner of this family. The government should think about his eight-month-old daughter and wife.”
#Amritsar: Dalbir Singh (pic 1), who played the role of Ravan in a Ramlila in the city during Dussehra celebrations, died in #AmritsarTrainAccident, yesterday. His mother (pic 3) says, "I appeal to the govt to provide a job to my daughter-in law. She also has a 8-month old baby." pic.twitter.com/MFDHVhwf4G— ANI (@ANI) October 20, 2018
At least 58 people, including women and children, were killed when a local train ran over a crowd sitting on the track and watching a Ravana effigy burn during Dussehra celebrations.
The role of train driver, railway officials and local authorities, who gave permission for holding of the event close to the railway tracks, is being probed, police officials said.
Scores of people were roaming on the railway tracks on Saturday morning to see the accident spot, with the police and local authorities failing to even cordon off the area.
Eyewitnesses said the victims were either watching the burning of Ravana or were recording the event on their mobile.
Over 700 people were watching the huge Ravana effigy going up in flames amid exploding crackers at the Jora Phatak near Dhobi Ghat within Amritsar city when the Jalandhar-Amritsar DMU passenger train coming to Amritsar from Hoshiarpur came hurtling down around 7 pm. It took just about 10-15 seconds for the train to pass — and leave behind a heap of crushed and dismembered bodies.
People standing on the tracks did not realise that the train was approaching fast due to the noise of the firecrackers during the burning effigy.
Some locals blamed Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu's wife Navjot Kaur, who was the chief guest at the celebrations, saying her late arrival delayed the burning of the effigy by more than half an hour.
The state government has declared a state mourning on Saturday. All offices and educational institutions will remain closed as a mark of respect to those dying in the train tragedy.