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Train driver is lying, say eyewitnesses; slam statements

Amritsar tragedy

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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 .

“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, 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.


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National

Rahul Gandhi did not take stand against corruption when it mattered in Bihar: Nitish

Press Trust of India

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Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar Tuesday attributed his sudden exit from the opposition alliance to Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s “inability” to take a stand on corruption charges against his former deputy and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav.

Kumar, who also heads the JD(U), claimed that his party was instrumental in the Congress getting 40 seats to contest in the 2015 assembly polls.

The chief minister said he had felt let down by Gandhi, then the party’s vice-president, when he “did not come up with even a statement that could have made me have second thoughts (about leaving the alliance)”.

 

Kumar had quit the alliance, comprising the JD(U), the RJD and the Congress, in July 2017 after the CBI lodged an FIR against Yadav on corruption charges and the following strife between him and the RJD.

“It has been always my line that there will be no compromise on crime, corruption and communalism. Their (RJD’s) style of functioning was such that it was becoming increasingly difficult for me to work. There was interference at all levels. Their people would telephone police stations with their own decrees,” Kumar claimed.

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“Rahul Gandhi had famously tore that ordinance. It was the JD(U) which insisted that it (Congress) be given 40 seats and they ended up winning 28. The RJD, despite its old association with it, was never ready to give it that much weightage,” Kumar said.

In 2003, Gandhi had torn an ordinance brought by the Manmohan Singh government with a provision to protect convicted politicians against disqualification.

Stating that he resigned as he had no other choice, Kumar said his resignation was immediately followed by an offer of support from the BJP. “So I took the decision (to join hands with the BJP) in the interests of Bihar,” he said.

“We have our differences on issues like Ayodhya, Article 370 and Uniform Civil Code since the 1990s. My association with the BJP predates the NDA’s formation in 1999. But we have always worked amicably. Even now, we are getting full cooperation from the Narendra Modi government,” he said.

Kumar had snapped ties with the BJP in 2013 following differences over projection of Narendra Modi, the then Gujarat chief minister, as the prime ministerial candidate.

On a query about the RSS, he said, “I may not agree with their thoughts but I cannot help admiring their consistency and commitment towards organisation building, something those adhering to our socialist ideology never excelled at.”

Recalling the stupendous performances by the JD(U)-BJP combine in 2009 Lok Sabha polls and the assembly elections a year later, Kumar said, “Now we have an important leader like Ram Vilas Paswanwith us. So there is no reason why we should not do even better in the upcoming LS polls.”

On the opposition ‘mahagathbandhan’ (grand alliance), which comprises the RJD, the Congress, the RLSP, the HAM and some smaller parties, he said, “Even the term mahagathbandhan that they keep flaunting was given by me. After the exit of JD(U), it is just a gathbandhan (alliance)”.

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KCR’s son meets Jaganmohan Reddy, discusses ‘proposed’ federal front

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Hyderabad: Continuing his efforts to forge a non-BJP, non-Congress front ahead of the coming Lok Sabha polls, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) Chief K Chandrasekhar Rao decided to hold talks with YSR Congress to try and rope it into the proposed coalition.

K Chandrasekhar Rao’s son KT Rana Rao met Jaganmohan Reddy in Hyderabad to invite his YSR Congress party to join federal front.

Reddy is the Leader of Opposition in the Andhra Pradesh assembly.

 

These talks are the first direct conversation between the leaders of two parties since KCR floated the idea of a front as an alternation to the BJP and the Congress.

TRS’s chief KCR has already held talks with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Janata Dal (United) leader HD Deve Gowda, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and DMK leader MK Stalin.

KCR winning for a second straight term after his party’s election victory in last month’s state polls, Rao amped up his efforts towards federal front for 2019 polls due in May.

The TRS is likely to discuss with Reddy the possibility of working together in Andhra to defeat a common enemy – Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and his party Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

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Massive protests at Sabarimala after 2 women try to enter shrine

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Thiruvananthapuram: Massive protests broke out near the Sabarimala temple in Kerala on Wednesday morning after two women in their 30s tried to trek up to the shrine.

The women were identified as Reshma and Sanila, residents of Kannur, covered almost half of the 5.5 km trek to the shrine but were intercepted by angry devotees. They used started trekking at 5 am to dodge the protesters.

As the situation turned tense, police plead helplessness saying it is beyond their control. Later, women were taken to Pambha, the base camp after they were blocked for two hours.

 

The two women are part of a nine-member group who were on their way to the temple.

Kanaka Durga, along with 40-year-old Bindu Ammini, are the first women below 50 in decades to enter the hilltop shrine. Durga was attacked by her relatives on her return home on Monday.

The Supreme Court in September last year allowed women of all ages to worship at the Sabarimala shrine, overturning a centuries-old ban on women of childbearing age from entering the temple.

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