LAHORE: As many as 20 members of a Sikh family hailing from Peshawar died in a train-coaster collision at Farooqabad, Jatri Road, Sheikhupura, on Friday noon when the driver of the ill-fated coaster...
LAHORE: As many as 20 members of a Sikh family hailing from Peshawar died in a train-coaster collision at Farooqabad, Jatri Road, Sheikhupura, on Friday noon when the driver of the ill-fated coaster attempted to cross an unmanned railway crossing and collided with Lahore-bound 43-Up Shah Hussain Express coming from Karachi.
Eight people were injured in the accident and moved to the District Headquarters Hospital (DHQ) Sheikhupura. Some of the wounded are in a critical condition.
The Pakistan Railways (PR) has constituted a three-member committee to probe the accident and submit initial findings in 24 hours to CEO Railways Dost Ali Leghari to fix responsibility.
After the accident, the district administration established a control room at the Sheikhupura Deputy Commissioner’s Office.
According to the Rescue 1122 officials, 27 members of a Sikh family were traveling from Peshawar to Nankana Sahib to attend a funeral rite in the coaster when it rammed into the train.
The rescue officials said the driver of the coaster attempted to cross the railway lines from an alternative way instead of road which resulted in accident.
Deputy Secretary Shrines Evacuee Trust Property Board (EPTB) Imran Gondal said all Sikh travellers were Pakistani nationals and residents of Peshawar.
The EPTB official said the bodies are being shifted to the Mayo Hospital, Lahore, while the wounded have been shifted to the DHQ Sheikhupura and Lahore for treatment.
According to a Pakistan Railways official, the coaster collided with the train around 1:30pm due to which traffic remained suspended for almost one hour and fifteen minutes for the rescue activities and clearance of the track. Once the rescue team cleared the railway track, the rail traffic was resumed.
The PR authorities immediately suspended the divisional engineer concerned besides constituting a team comprising three senior officials including Chief Engineer Open Line Shahrukh Afshar, COPS Operating Amir Ali Baloch and CME Loco Abdul Malik. The committee will complete an initial report within 24 hours.
According to a PR spokesperson, the crossers are responsible for checking track clearance at the unmanned railway crossings. The PR installed warning and caution boards at such crossings for the crossers to create awareness. Unfortunately, the crossers usually ignore such caution boards which result in tragic incidents besides loss to the national assets. Such incidents also cause bad name to the Pakistan Railways as well, the spokesperson added.
Currently, there are almost 2,700 railways crossings with no gate in the country out of which around 1,400 are manned and the remaining are unmanned. These unmanned railway crossings are commonly known as death crossings. In the recent past, 19 people were killed on February 28 in a train-bus collision near Rohri in Sindh. In July 2019, 24 people lost their lives after a Quetta-bound train collided with a cargo train near Sadiqabad, and in December 2018, 12 people were injured when a passenger train crashed into a school van near Narowal, Punjab.
Following the accident, President Dr Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed grief over the loss of lives, urging officials to provide best facilities to the injured. Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar also expressed sorrow.
Meanwhile, Provincial Minster for Human Rights and Minorities Affairs Ijaz Aslam along with Parliamentary Secretary Mahindar Pall Singh visited Farooqabad. They also visited the DHQ Sheikhupura and inquired after the wounded. They said the accident was tragic and they were in mourning with the ill-fated family. They instructed the district administration for ensuring all maximum facilities to the wounded. They said the Punjab government will devise a strategy to avoid such untoward accidents in the future.
The train driver, Nazir Ahmed, said half of the coaster ramped into the train due to negligence of its driver. “I buzzed the horn many times but the coaster driver ignored it as he was busy talking with a passenger,” he said, adding that he took the driving seat of the train from Multan. He mentioned that he was working in the Pakistan Railways on a three-year contract after getting retired in 2017.
The following are the names of those killed in the accident: Kaka Singh s/o Setak Singh, Poran Kaur w/o Kaka Singh, Jay Singh s/o Sekat Singh, Papender Singh s/o Sekat Singh, Waljeet Kaur w/o Papender Singh, Maninder Singh s/o Sawinder Singh, Harpreet Kaur w/o Sawinder Singh, Balbir Singh s/o Bagwan Singh, Mehnat Kaur w/o Bagwan Singh, Ahaljeet Singh s/o Hardial Singh, Harmeet Singh s/o Bagwan Singh, Amreek Singh s/o Harjan Singh, Satpal Kaur w/o Amreek Singh, Ravender Singh s/o Sardar Singh, Mehman Kaur w/o Partab Singh, Daljeet Kaur w/o Jagmohan Singh, Jay Kaur w/o Bagwan Singh, Tajinder Singh s/o Partab Singh, Jasleen Kaur d/o Kalyan Singh, Aarjeet Kaur, Wali Abbas ( driver), Muhammad Ali (owner of vehicle).
Meanwhile, PML-N President and National Assembly Opposition Leader Shahbaz Sharif has expressed grief over the death of Sikh pilgrims in an accident near Sheikhupura.
In a statement issued here on Friday, Shahbaz said he is saddened by the report of 22 Sikh pilgrims losing lives after their van was run over by the Shah Hussain Express traveling from Karachi to Lahore. He extended his condolence to the families of the victims and urged the government to ensure best possible medical facilities for those injured in the accident. He called for arranging the most convenient way to transport the bodies to their hometowns.