As scores of Dussehra revellers watching the burning of Ravana effigy were mowed down by a passing train near here, the disturbing video footage of the accident showed many across the railway tracks filming the celebrations on their mobile phones when the tragedy struck.
Punjab Minister Navjot Sidhu’s wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu, who was the chief guest at the programme, later said nobody knew how the accident happened as people were enjoying and also taking selfies standing on the tracks.
Many, including political leaders, took to Twitter to express dismay over the selfie culture during such tragic incidents.
“What a mindless & entirely avoidable tragedy! Watching this video you’d be hard pressed to imagine the scale of the tragedy considering the way people are nonchalantly filming away on their phones even after the train has run over people!,” former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted.
Aam Aadmi Party leader Preeti Sharma Menon tweeted, it was so unbelievable that the train ran over the crowd “and they continued filming”.
A witness told reporters near the accident site that the scenes were reminiscent of ones witnessed during the partition of the country when millions of people lost their lives in violence.
For several mothers, who were till just moments ago celebrating the festivities, the few fateful moments changed the life forever. Shock and disbelief were common emotions.
“I have lost my child. I want him back,” said an inconsolable mother.
A local resident said they have been requesting the authorities and their representatives in legislatures to talk with the railways and make sure trains are slowed down near this section of the track during Dussehra. “But no one has listened,” he lamented.
There was also anger among the people. “The driver didn’t blow the horn,” alleged one of the witnesses.