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Train kills at least 50 Dussehra revellers in Punjab

Witnesses said the dead included children. There were reportedly around 700 people at the accident spot.

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Amritsar Train Accident

Amritsar, Oct 19 : Amritsar, Oct 19 : In a terrible disaster, 58 people watching the burning of a Ravan effigy from a railway track were crushed to death by a speeding train here in Punjab on Friday, triggering anger in the area and nationwide outrage. Nearly 72 others were injured, many of them seriously.

A large number of some 700 people were watching the huge Ravan effigy in flames amid exploding crackers while on the tracks at Joda Phatak near Dhobi Ghat within the city when the Jalandhar-Amritsar DMU passenger train coming to Amritsar from Hoshiarpur came hurtling down around 7 p.m.

It took just about 10-15 seconds for the train to pass — and leave behind a heap of crushed and dismembered bodies.

Amritsar Police Commissioner S.S. Srivastava told reporters that 58 people have died and 72 have been rushed to hospitals in the city. The toll could go up, Srivastava said.

The state government has declared state mourning on Saturday and all offices and educational institutions will remain closed in view of the tragedy, an official spokesperson said, adding a probe has also been ordered.

Video clips posted on the social media showed some people who had apparently seen the approaching train trying to run away from the site. A few of them were also mowed down.

Wails and cries filled the air as people frantically looked for their near and dear ones. Severed bodies, including those of children, were lying at the accident site hours after the incident with angry people not allowing authorities to remove them.

“I have lost my child. I want him back,” an inconsolable mother was wailing at the disaster spot.

Most people reportedly could not hear the hooting of the train due to the exploding crackers.

“Out of nowhere came the train,” said a man, while speaking to journalists. “Before anyone could realise what was happening, it ran over scores of people.”

“When the effigy started to burn in full flow, people began running away from it fearing it may fall over them,” said another man. “They did not realise that a speeding train was coming and the train did not sound its hooter.”

Another man felt that the tragedy would have claimed at least 100 lives. The dead included several children, another witness said.

Ironically, moments before the tragedy, another train passed the area but there were no casualties, a railway official said.

A local resident, Nirmal Jit Sindhu, alleged that the Dussehra celebrations were organised by forcing the local administration to grant permission near the railway tracks.

He said last year the administration had not granted permission for the use of this venue for Dussehra celebrations owing to its proximity to the tracks.

Some people blamed Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu’s wife Navjot Kaur, who was the Chief Guest at the celebrations, saying her late arrival delayed the burning of the effigy by more than half an hour.

Sidhu told a news channel on telephone from Bengaluru that the death toll was alarmingly high.

BJP leader and former local bodies minister Anil Joshi blamed Sidhu’s wife Navjot Kaur for running away from the Dussehra celebrations site soon after the train accident.

“The Dussehra celebrations were organised without the local administration permission. She (Navjot Kaur) disappeared midway during the ceremony when she was apprised about the disaster,a Joshi told reporters.

“The driver didn’t slow down the train and was watching towards the burning Ravana,” said one of the witnesseses.

Another woman was inconsolable as she said her son was missing.

“The administration and the Dussehra committee are at fault as they should have informed the railways authorities about the celebrations”, said another eyewitness.

Eyewitnesses said there were no barricading near the railway tracks and the people were forced to see the Dussehra ceremony by standing on tracks.

The effigy of Ravana was being burnt around 200 feet away from the railway track.

A railway official said in New Delhi that the drop gates at the spot were down but people still massed on the tracks in violation of railway rules.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh announced Rs 5 lakh compensation to the kin of the deceased and cancelled his proposed Israel visit to rush to Amritsar.

“District authorities have been mobilized on war footing,” he tweeted.

President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed condolences over the horrific tragedy.

“Extremely saddened by the accident in Amritsar. The tragedy is heart-wrenching… I pray that the injured recover quickly,” Modi said.

The Prime Minister announced Rs 2 lakh compensation to the families of the dead and Rs 50,000 to the injured.

Similar messages came from the Chief Ministers of West Bengal and Delhi. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal cancelled all his engagements in the US and was flying back to India.

Several senior railway officials were set to fly by an Indian Air Force plane to Amritsar to help oversee the relief and rescue effort.

IANS

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No restriction on accessing any website in Jammu and Kashmir: Centre

Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said the mobile data services are presently restricted to 2G speed in all but two districts of the Union territory.

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Postpaid Mobile in Kashmir

There is no restriction on accessing any website, including social media sites, in Jammu and Kashmir, the Lok Sabha was informed on Sunday.

Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said the mobile data services are presently restricted to 2G speed in all but two districts of the Union territory. “There is no restriction on accessing any sites, including the social media sites,” he said in a written reply. Reddy said the internet services are already available in Kashmir on fixed line (without any speed-related restrictions) as well as mobile data services (at 2G speed) since January 24, 2020.

He said restrictions on accessing social media sites were also lifted on March 4, 2020. Further, high speed mobile data services too have been commenced in the districts of Ganderbal (Kashmir Division) and Udhampur (Jammu Division) with effect from August 16, 2020. The minister said fixed line internet connectivity is available without any speed-related restrictions, with Mac-binding.

He said the businesses have had access to internet through fixed line connectivity and internet kiosks opened in large numbers across the Valley without any speed restrictions.

Reddy also informed the Lower House that 2G mobile internet speed is not an impediment in Covid control measures, including dissemination of information to the general public as well as health workers.

Also, he said, e-learning apps and education/e-learning websites of the Government of India, Government of J&K are accessible over 2G internet for downloading e-books and other study material.

“Further, the restriction on high speed mobile internet services has not been an impediment in the administration of justice and the courts have taken special measures to conduct their proceedings during the pandemic by providing video links/URLs to lawyers and the litigants,” the minister said.

“Considering the overall security scenario and in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the Government of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir issues orders from time to time regulating telecom and internet services in terms of the applicable rules and the principles laid down and directions contained in the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India..,” he added.

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Mumbai to get 150 more suburban train services from Monday

The selected 10 per cent staff will require QR ID codes from the government which along with a valid identity card to commute after buying tickets/passes, said an official.

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mumbai local

Mumbai, Sep 20 : Mumbai will get an additional 150 suburban services on the Western Railway (WR) which will ease the commuting travails for officegoers and those in essential services permitted by the Maharashtra government, officials said here on Sunday.

With this, the number of WR suburban services will shoot up from 350 to 500 daily, while the Central Railway is already running 355 services.

This works out to 855 services daily – or barely one-third of the regular 2,300-plus suburban services that was the norm before the lockdown in March-end.

AWith the increase in services, the government permitted 10 per cent of key employees of private and cooperative banks to commute by local trains, in addition to essential staff of public sector banks, various government departments, aircraft maintenance staffers and lawyers who have been allowed so far.

The selected 10 per cent staff will require QR ID codes from the government which along with a valid identity card to commute after buying tickets/passes, said an official.

To avoid overcrowding and maintain physical distance, the WR and CR will open additional ticket booking counters at major stations on the suburban section which spans across Mumbai, Thane, Palghar and Raigad.

Several railway passengers organisations and Bahujan Vikash Aghadi (BVA) legislator Kshitij from Nalasopara (Palghar) have urged Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to resume suburban services for all office-goers.

Presently, many office-goers, especially those from Thane, Palghar and Raigad who commute to their workplaces in Mumbai are forced to travel at least 6 hours daily owing to huge traffic snarls on main roads and the two highways serving the country’s commercial capital.

Moreover, despite the restricted categories allowed to commute by local trains, there is overcrowding during the morning-evening peak hours making a sham of the physical distancing norms.

Meanwhile, the Covid cases and fatalities in the Mumbai Region (comprising Mumbai, Thane, Palghar and Raigad) have been on an upswing since the past few weeks, even as the state case tally reached 12,08,642 besides 32,671 fatalities till date.

Of these, the lion’s share belongs to Mumbai circle with 435,201 cases so far besides 14,780 deaths, causing huge concern among health authorities.

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11-kg tumour extracted from Mumbai woman’s abdomen

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surgery

Mumbai, Sep 20 : Doctors in Mumbai have extracted a gigantic 11-kg tumour from the abdomen of a 55-year-old woman after a marathon nine-hour surgery.

A team of medicos headed by oncologist Dr Tanveer A. Majeed, urologist Dr Santosh Palkar and Dr Shilpa Deshmukh performed the complicated surgery at the Zen Multispeciality Hospital in Chembur.

The patient Sujata Sinha (name changed) is a housewife who noticed her abdomen growing daily accompanied by breathing difficulties.

At the height of lockdown in June, she consulted a local doctor who confirmed the presence of a tumour with ultrasound and CT scan.

However, owing to the lockdown she did not take any further steps or medicines, even as the tumour continued to grow rapidly, making her look obese.

Finally, she was referred to the ZMH and Dr Majeed checked her condition on September 8 to find she was weighing around 80 kgs, and suffered from diabetes and hypertension.

Further tests revealed the huge abdominal tumour encroaching the right half of the abdomen, pushing the right kidney to the left side, duodenum, liver, small intestine and colon to the left side, besides her major blood vessels supplying to the heart.

After further clinical diagnosis, the patient was advised surgery by Dr Majeed as it indicated a rare cancer of connective tissues that resemble fat cells under a microscope.

“After opening the abdomen, we found a huge tumour which had displaced all the other body organs to the left side. It weighed 11 kgs and had dimensions of 55 cm x 40 cm x 35 cm, and the patient lost around one litre of blood during the nine-hour operation,” said Dr Majeed.

The patient is recuperating well at the hospital now, has started an oral liquid diet, can breathe normally, and will be required for a follow-up after three months.

“We delayed treatment due to the pandemic lockdown. But I am fortunate to be operated at ZMH where the doctors saved my life. I feel much lighter now, can eat and breathe properly and resume normal life,” said the patient gratefully.

Prior to this, a team of doctors at the Global Hospital, Parel, had extracted a massive 12-kg tumour from a woman’s abdomen in December 2014.

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