Police commando, photojournalist injured during clashes in Amritsar

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AMRITSAR: A punjab police commando and a photojournalist were injured Sunday when security personnel removed protesters from a rail track where 59 Dussehra revellers were mowed down by a train, officials said.

The agitated protesters blocking the track were removed and train services resumed this afternoon, 40 hours after the horrific accident, a railway spokesperson said.

On Friday evening, a gathering of more than 300 people were on the tracks to watch the burning of a Ravana effigy when the speeding train struck leaving 59 dead and scores injured.

A case under attempt to murder has been registered against 50 unidentified people. “A policemen received severe injuries during stone pelting. We have registered a case under sections 307 (attempt to murder), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 120-B (punishment of criminal conspiracy) of the IPC against 50 unidentified people,” a police spokesperson said.

“Train services resumed on the affected rail track near Jaura Phatak,” senior divisional security commissioner (Railways), Ferozepur division, S Sudhakar said. The first goods train started from Manawala to Amritsar at 2.16 pm, said Northern Railways spokesperson Deepak Kumar.

The protestors were raising slogans against the state government and demanding resignation of Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu.

The Punjab police has deployed its personnel, including commandoes, to manage the crowd. The Rapid Action Force was also present in the Joda Patak area, officials said.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh directed the Amritsar administration to prepare detailed socio-economic profiles of victims.

Singh, who met some of the survivors in hospitals Saturday, was particularly moved by tales of two young women who lost their entire family including children and husbands, and in one case her in-laws, an official release said.

Anguished at the plight of such survivors, Singh told Chief Principal Secretary Suresh Kumar that the government needed to do more than just giving Rs 5 lakh ex gratia, especially in cases where victims were poor.

The senior Congress leader announced that a proper system would be worked out to ensure that such survivors were rehabilitated by the state at the earliest.

He also directed that ration, clothing, medicines etc be provided to the families of the victims as most were from the economically weaker sections of the society.

Singh reviewed the relief and rehabilitation work with the Crisis Management Group of ministers headed by state Health Minister Brahm Mohindra, and directed them to take immediate steps for early disbursement of the compensation.

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