New Delhi: The probe by Chief Commissioner of Railway Safety (CCRS) into the Amritsar train tragedy, which killed 60 people on Dussehra, has blamed the "negligence" and "trespassing" of people standing near the railway tracks for the disaster.
Official sources said CCRS SK Pathak, in his report, has noted that there were around 50 policemen on duty for the Dussehra function near Amritsar's Joda Phatak where the effigies were being burned. “Some of the policemen tried to move the crowd away from tracks but the people did not listen to them,” they said quoting from the report.
The probe report found that the spot of the accident was not visible till the train was within 250 meters of the crowd of revellers due to an S-curve on the route. It added that the incident took place at around 7pm and there was smoke in the atmosphere due to firecrackers and burning of effigies, which made visibility a challenge. “Otherwise visibility on straight track with headlights on is 200 meters," the report said.
The CCRS also pointed out that the permissible maximum speed on the route was 100 kmph and at the time of the accident, the train was running at a speed of 82 kmph when the loco-pilot saw the crowd and applied emergency brakes. "In trial, it was seen that braking distance of the DEMU (Diesel Engine Multiple Unit) at this speed is 389 meters for similar speed," the source said.
Pathak also reported that railways were not informed about the Dussehra event by the organisers or the local administration.
The Railway Ministry had ordered a CCRS probe on November 2 after Amritsar MP Gurjeet Singh Aujla met Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on October 23 and demanded an investigation. Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had already ordered a magisterial probe. The magisterial probe report on the tragedy was submitted to the Punjab government on Wednesday.
Pathak took the statements of numerous witnesses including those of railway officials and the public. He also examined the technical aspects before preparing the report on the tragedy in which about 60 people were also injured when the DEMU train ran over the crowd that had gathered on the railway tracks to watch the Dussehra proceedings.