Amritsar train accident: Let's not railroad engine driver; public, politicians and police deserve fair share of blame

In the Arabian desert, there are bone dry river beds called wadis. Tourists like to park their vehicles there and take photographs. Every so often, the authorities warn against parking on the bed because flash floods hurtle down, a veritable roaring wall of water that offers no escape and devastates.

 Amritsar train accident: Lets not railroad engine driver; public, politicians and police deserve fair share of blame

Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh reaches Amritsar. Arjun Sharma/ 101Reporters

Pretty much like the train that scythed through a crowd at Amritsar and marked an obscenity of a tragedy. Now, we can blame the engine driver and the chief guest Navjot Kaur Sidhu for being late to the burning of the Ravana effigy and Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for not reaching Amritsar from Delhi and toss the railway authorities in for good measure. None of it amounts to anything.

The cruel fact is you don't stand on the railroad tracks. The tracks belong to trains. It is appalling that at a function where politicians were present, the police hadn't cared to cordon off the tracks and save the people from themselves. To think that another train had just rolled by on one of the triple tracks and no one said: Whoa, just a minute, Get off the tracks. These are residents of the neighbourhood, who'd know the train schedule forwards and backwards. Why did they congregate on the railway tracks?

And where were the police keeping control of the crowd? They should be the first point of inquiry. Not whether Navjot Kaur arrived late. Surely, we will discover inadequate exits which is par for these ad hoc functions, confusion and general chaos but what is most mystifying is that a train headlight is blindingly powerful coming down a straight track. Did no one see it?

There will be questions asked about the speed of the train. But last I heard, we wanted fast trains. As is customary, the fear is that bureaucratic indifference, political sycophancy and arrogance, poor planning at the venue, a lack of basic safety norms will all be ignored and a scapegoat will be found in the engine driver who was only doing his job.

Updated Date: Oct 20, 2018 16:10:14 IST