Amritsar train tragedy: Applied brakes but couldn’t stop in time, says train driver

New Delhi, Oct 21: The Punjab police Sunday cleared a section of the railway track here which was blocked by agitators protesting against a train accident that had claimed 59 lives during Dusshera celebrations.

The agitated protestors resorted to stone-pelting in which some people including police personnel received minor injuries, witnesses said.

Now in the written statement to the Railways administration, Arvind Kumar, the driver of the local Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) train which killed nearly 59 people near Amritsar Friday evening has now alleged that had applied the emergency brakes but continued with the journey as people “started attacking the train by throwing stones”.“Suddenly I saw a crowd of people near the track. I constantly sounded the horn as I immediately applied the emergency brake. Despite applying emergency brake, some people were run over by the train. The train was almost coming to a halt when a very large crowd started attacking the train by throwing stones. Considering the safety of my passengers, I proceeded with the train,” Kumar has said in his statement.

According to a report in "Indian Express", this claim by the driver is at odds with eyewitness accounts, and the several videos of the incident circulating on social media. However, there will be no probe by the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) into what is this year’s biggest railway mishap.This is because the Railways Ministry is not calling this an accident — as its passengers were not affected and its assets were not damaged. This, in the understanding of the Railways, was the result of trespassing on the tracks. Since trains have the right of way, humans on the tracks are deemed to be unlawful obstructions. It follows that the onus of fixing responsibility for Friday’s deaths does not lie with the Railways.“This was a case of trespassing. People were not supposed to be there. In fact local people were very well aware that it was a busy section where trains pass almost every 10 minutes. Law and order is a state subject, so we will cooperate with any probe by the state government,” Northern Railway General Manager Vishwesh Chaube told The Sunday Express. “We will increase our periodic advertising campaigns to sensitise people about not trespassing into railway tracks.”