Sat, 20 October 2018
Families bid tearful farewell to those killed in Amritsar accident

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21:50   Families bid tearful farewell to those killed in Amritsar accident
Families and relatives on Saturday bid an emotional goodbye to 39 of the 59 people killed in the tragic train accident in Amritsar that has sent shock waves across the country.

The mortal remains were consigned to flames at different cremation grounds in Amritsar as heartbroken friends and family members of the deceased wept inconsolably, not ready to believe their loved ones were no more.

Some of the tragedy-struck women fainted at the cremation grounds when the funeral pyres of their relatives were lit.

Parents of the children killed in the accident broke down several times.

Davinder found it really hard to come to terms with his brother's death.

Several members of his family, hailing from Bihar, were killed in the horrific accident.

Earlier, officials said 40 of the 59 people killed in the accident had been identified.

At least 59 people were killed Friday evening after a crowd of Dussehra revellers that had spilled onto railway tracks while watching the burning of a Ravana effigy was run over by a train near Joda Phatak in Amritsar.

Additional Deputy Commissioner Sandip Rishi said 31 bodies were cremated at the Durgiana Mandir's cremation ground. The mortal remains of five people were consigned to flames at the crematorium in the Mohkampura area.

Three bodies were cremated at the crematorium near the Shaeed Ganj Gurdwara.

Rishi said four bodies were taken to Uttar Pradesh for the final rites, while three bodies kept in the mortuary would be cremated later.

Shiromani Akali Dal Badal chief Sukhbir Badal and former ministers Bikram Majithia and Daljit Singh Cheema attended the cremation ceremony at the Durgiana Mandir's cremation ground.

Sukhbir expressed condolences to families of the victims and offered all possible help to them.  -- PTI

IMAGE: Mass funeral of victims of rail accident in Amritsar on Saturday. Photograph: Kamal Kishore/PTI Photo
21:06   GRP registers FIR in Amritsar train accident
The Government Railway Police on Saturday registered a case against unknown persons in connection with the Amritsar tragedy in which a train mowed down at least 59 Dussehra revellers.

A case has been registered under Sections 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 304A (causing death by negligence) and 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) of the Indian Penal Code, a GRP official said.

SHO of GRP railway station Amritsar Balvir Singh said the FIR has been registered against the unknown persons and names of the accused would be added in the FIR after investigation.

"It is too early to say anything about the accused (or) who was responsible for the mass killing on railway track. But during the course of investigation, many facts and causes are expected to come to light. Investigation will be conducted to find out the causes and lapses that led to the killing of so many people," he said.

Singh said the GRP was informed by Punjab police personnel about the incident and they immediately rushed to the spot.

"We found bodies of many people including women and children. We extended all possible help to shift the injured people to different hospitals and assisted the administration in the rescue operation," he said.

Asked about the driver of the train, Singh said he has not been arrested as he has not been named in the FIR.  -- PTI
20:39   Amritsar: Nitish announces Rs 2 lakh for kin of Bihar natives killed
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday announced an ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh to the next of kin of persons hailing from Bihar who died in the train accident in Amritsar.

Four persons from Bihar -- one each from Patna and Bhagalpur districts and two from Bhagalpur -- were confirmed to be among the 59 killed in the incident.

The chief minister has announced an ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh to the next of kin of each of them, an official release said in Patna.

Out of the the total ex gratia amount, half would be paid from the Chief Minister's Relief Fund and the remaining amount would be released under 'Pravasi Mazdoor Durghatna Anudan Yojana' -- a scheme meant for migrants from Bihar who meet with an accident elsewhere while trying to eke out a living, it said.

Kumar, who had served as Railway minister during the prime ministership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, expressed grief over the loss of lives and questioned the level of preparedness for the Dussehra function that was being held close to the railway tracks in Amritsar.

"A high-level of alertness and preparedness is required while holding any public function in the vicinity of a railway line. We do not know whether the Railways were previously informed about the Dussehra programme held there.

"But whoever organises such events at such places, and the authority that grants sanction for the same, need to exercise great caution," the Chief Minister had told reporters here.

"After all, under all circumstances, a train will run on the tracks. It cannot make a sudden swerve. Moreover, it is often not possible to apply the brakes abruptly. Therefore, people must be careful while allowing any gathering close to railway tracks anywhere," he added.  -- PTI
20:01   Massive landslide blocks Jammu-Srinagar highway
A massive landslide on Saturday blocked the Jammu-Srinagar national highway near Ramban district, leaving a number of vehicles stranded, officials said.

The nearly 270-km Jammu-Srinagar National Highway is the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with the rest of the country.

The landslide occurred near Ramsoo town in Ramban, the officials said.

No vehicle was passing by when the landslide took place, they said.

"The concerned agency (has) pressed its men and machines (into service) and efforts are underway to restore the traffic (movement) on the highway," deputy superintendent of police (national highway) Vishal Manhas told PTI.

He said it will take at least five hours to clear the highway.

Meanwhile, the Mughal Road, connecting the twin districts of Poonch and Rajouri in Jammu region with south Kashmir's Shopian district, was reopened.

It was closed for several hours due to snowfall in Peer Ki Gali area on Friday night.

The snow was cleared and the stranded vehicles were allowed to proceed to their destinations, the officials said, adding that the traffic flow was smooth when the last reports were received.  -- PTI

Image only for representation.
19:54   40 of those killed in Amritsar mishap identified, 36 bodies cremated: Officials
As many as 40 of the 59 people killed in the train accident near Amritsar have been identified so far and the bodies of 36 of were cremated, officials said on Saturday.

The bodies of four other persons, who belonged to Uttar Pradesh, have been sent to their home towns by the district administration, an official said.

The 36 bodies were cremated in batches at a ground near Shitla Mata Temple in Amritsar in the presence of officials of the state government and family members of the deceased.

According to officials, the post-mortem examination on 29 bodies has been done.

At least 59 people were killed and 72 injured Friday evening after a crowd of Dussehra revellers that had spilled onto railway tracks while watching burning of Ravana effigy was run over by a train near Amritsar, officials said.

The injured have been admitted to seven hospitals, the officials said.

The train was coming from Jalandhar when the accident occurred at Joda Phatak near Amritsar, where at least 300 people were watching 'Ravana dahan' at a ground adjacent to the tracks.  -- PTI
19:18   Navjot Kaur Sidhu: Gateman should have alerted the train driver
Former minister Navjot Kaur Sidhu said on Saturday the gateman responsible for closing the railway barrier could have alerted the driver to slow down the train as several people were standing on the rail tracks.

Sidhu was the chief guest of the Dussehra celebrations held near Joda Phatak in Amritsar where 59 revellers were mowed down by a train.

She was accused of leaving the site of accident without bothering about the victims.

She said several announcements were made from the stage at the event, requesting people to come inside the Dhobi ghat to watch the burning effigies.

The railway man who was responsible for closing the barrier should have seen that Dusshera event was being held there, she said.

"Could he not see the train coming and the people standing on the railway track? He was there on the spot. He could have alerted the driver to slow down the train.

"People were just looking at Ravana's effigy being burnt. They were not seeing that a train was coming," Sidhu told reporters in Amritsar.

She said people should not indulge in a blame game over the tragedy.

She said Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had already ordered a probe and after four weeks, everyone would come to know who was at fault.

Sidhu said before she went on the dais, four to five announcements were made from the stage, urging people not to stand on railway tracks.

"They were told that there was enough space at the Dhobi Ghat ground and they could come there but the people did not listen to the requests," said Sidhu.

To a question on the permissions granted for the event, Sidhu said she had seen two to three permissions which were obtained by the organiser.

She said the Dusshera event had been held there for the last 40 years.

To a query, she said she was just 15 minutes late in attending the function. Sidhu said when she came to know about the incident she immediately went to the hospital to see the patients.

"I even arranged doctors so the injured gets treatment. Being a doctor, I provided medical treatment to some of them," she said.

The Opposition on Friday had targeted Navjot Kaur Sidhu, a former MLA and wife of Cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, claiming she allegedly left the venue without bothering the victims.  -- PTI
19:09   Parrikar's illness affecting his, state's working, says ally
Goa Forward Party chief Vijai Sardesai on Saturday claimed Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar's ailment was affecting his working and that of the state administration.

The statement comes a day after the Goa Bharatiya Janata Party chief Vinay Tendulkar said there would be no change in leadership in the coastal state.

Parrikar is suffering from a pancreatic ailment and is currently being treated at his residence in Panaji.

"I expect them (BJP) to clarify. I am not a hypocrite, I will discuss the issue straight. It is a fact that the CM is ill and that has affected his working. As a result, it has affected the Goa administration. There are no two ways about it," Sardesai told reporters in Margao.

Earlier, BJP leader Nilesh Cabral, who was recently inducted into the Goa cabinet, had reportedly claimed that Sardesai's statement on leadership change, made a couple of days ago, was due to his 'private interest'.

Speaking on Saturday, Sardesai, who is the state agriculture minister, said, "We were called by BJP national president Amit Shah to Delhi to discuss leadership issues (arising out of Parrikar's ailment)."

"What is the personal interest in that? Cabral has told me that he was misquoted and he will clarify it. Cabral is new in the state cabinet and he should have control over what he speaks," Sardesai said.

He said he didn't find it correct to 'join issue with a colleague' when he was in discussions on leadership change with the BJP's national leadership.  -- PTI
19:01   Alertness necessary for public events near rail tracks: Nitish
Expressing grief over the train accident in Punjab, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has questioned the level of preparedness for the public event near railway tracks.

"The incident is tragic. We have learnt that some of the deceased belong to Bihar. Our condolences to all those who have lost their lives," Kumar, who had served as railway minister under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, told reporters on Saturday.

A high level of alertness is required while holding any public function in the vicinity of a railway line, the chief minister said.

"We do not know whether the Railways were informed in advance about the Dussehra programme. Whoever organizes events near tracks need to exercise great caution. The authorities, too, should take safety aspects into consideration before granting permission," he said.

It is often not possible for a train to apply brakes abruptly, Kumar noted.

"The trains cannot make a sudden swerve. Moreover, it is often not possible to apply the brakes abruptly. Therefore, people must be careful while allowing any gathering close to railway tracks anywhere," he added.  -- PTI
18:35   Committed to building Ram temple in Ayodhya: BJP
The Bharatiya Janata Party is committed to constructing a Ram temple in Ayodhya and would wait for the Supreme Court's verdict on the issue, the party spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao said Saturday.

Speaking to reporters in Hyderabad, the BJP leader said though there was a demand for a section of leaders to bring an ordinance on the Temple, Rao said the party understands the sentiments of the people.

"As far as the issue of construction of the grand temple for Lord Ram is concerned, our party's position has been consistent. We have always favoured the construction of grand temple in Ayodhya. That is the aspiration and sentiment of crores of people, Hindus in this country," he said.

"We are waiting for the verdict of the honourable Supreme Court and we want the process for the Ram temple construction to begin thereafter. We are committed to it but then we want this to happen either through the court verdict or through some kind of settlement among the communities, but that has not come forth. So we will have to wait for the court verdict," Rao said.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Vishwa Hindu Parishad are asking the government and the BJP for an early settlement of the issue.

VHP Chief Mohan Bhagwat Thursday in Nagpur during his annual Vijayadashmi address said the government should clear the path for construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya through an appropriate and requisite law.

The BJP leader alleged that some of the Congress leaders have been trying to put roadblocks in the construction of the temple by trying to delay Supreme Court judgement by using their own 'lawyer-politician' to create huddles in the court processes.

The Ayodhya case is currently before the Supreme Court and the next hearing is scheduled for October 29.

To a question on Rahul Gandhi's visit to Telangana for poll campaign, the BJP leader said the All India Congress Committee president was a "negative factor" for the Congress party during elections.

"Mr Rahul Gandhi has been proved to be disaster as far as electoral politics is concerned," he said.

The Congress President would address two public meetings in Telangana today in the run-up to the December 7 assembly elections.

The Election Commission had on October 6 announced the election schedule for five states, including Telangana, which will go to the polls on December 7.

Quoting media reports that the Income Tax department found some discrepancies in the firms owned by Telugu Desam MP CM Ramesh and Congress leader Revanth Reddy, G V L said the findings of the taxmen was just a 'tip of the iceberg' and those leaders owed an explanation to the people.  -- PTI
18:18   No one should interfere in temple traditions: Rajini on Sabarimala
Actor Rajinikanth on Saturday said there should be no 'interference' in temple traditions being followed for a long time, in his first response to the recent Supreme Court order on entry of women of all age groups into the Sabarimala shrine in Kerala and the subsequent protests.

Speaking to reporters here, he said there was no second opinion on equality for women in every sphere.

"But when you talk about a temple, every temple has its time honoured rituals, besides traditions being followed for a long time. My humble opinion is that no one should interfere in that," Rajinikanth said.

Noting that the top court verdict should be 'respected', the 67-year-old actor however, indicated that caution should be exercised when it came to matters of religion and related rituals.

Kerala has been witnessing protests against the entry of girls and women of menstrual age into Sabarimala temple since the government had said it would abide by the ruling of the apex court.

The agitation intensified since the shrine was opened for the five-day monthly pooja on October 17.

On September 28, a five-judge Constitution bench of the SC, headed by then chief justice Dipak Misra, lifted the centuries-old ban on the entry of women of menstrual age into the shrine.

On the #MeToo movement that has seen several women levelling sexual harassment charges against men including celebrities and political personalities, Rajinikanth said it was 'beneficial' for women.

However, 'it should not be misused and should (be) used properly', he cautioned.

On national award-winning lyricist Vairamuthu being accused of sexual harassment, the actor pointed out that the poet has denied the charges made by singer Chinmayi Sripaada.

To a question on the launch of his proposed party, Rajinikanth said 90 per cent of the work was over and that he would make the announcement at the right time.  -- PTI
18:15   PM to join flag-hoisting at Red Fort tomorrow
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will join a flag-hoisting ceremony at the Red Fort on Sunday to mark the 75th anniversary of the 'Azad Hind government' headed by Subhas Chandra Bose.

Interacting with Bharatiya Janata Party workers via video-conference on Wednesday, Modi had announced his plans to attend the ceremony.

Traditionally, the prime minister hoists the national tricolour at the historic Red Fort on Independence Day on August 15.

Modi said that BJP respects everybody who served the country, irrespective of party affiliation.

He said his government celebrates the contributions of many great personalities who were neglected by the Congress in its rule of several decades.

While the Congress neglected the likes of Bhimrao Ambedkar, Bose and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the BJP believed in remembering everybody who contributed to nation-building, he said, citing his government's works, including constructing museums for noted tribal personalities and developing five places linked to Dalit icon Ambedkar.

"We respect everybody who served the country," he had said.

The prime minister would also lay the foundation stone of a museum dedicated to the Azad Hind Fauj.

On October 21, 1943, Bose had announced the formation of the country's first independent government.  -- PTI
18:06   Mortal remains of N D Tiwari reach Lucknow, leaders pay tributes
Leaders across political divide Saturday paid their last respects to Congress veteran N D Tiwari in Lucknow.

Tiwari, who was undergoing treatment at Max Super Speciality Hospital in New Delhi, breathed his last at 2.50 pm on Thursday after he suffered a heart attack, hours after he turned 93.

His body reached Lucknow this afternoon by an air ambulance.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his ministerial colleagues received the mortal remains at the airport in Lucknow.

Tiwari, 93, died at a private hospital in Delhi on Thursday after prolonged illness.

Tiwari, who was considered close to Indira Gandhi, had served as a Union minister in several Congress-led governments.

He had the unique distinction of having served as the chief minister of two states, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, where his native place is located.

The body was taken to UP Vidhan Bhawan, where leaders from different political parties had gathered to pay their tributes to Tiwari.

UP Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma in a tweet said, "Shri Tiwari had significantly worked for the development and prosperity of UP. He was soft-spoken, able administrator and also had knowledge of parliamentary traditions."

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav was also present at the airport.  -- PTI

IMAGE: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath pays tribute to mortal remains of N D Tiwari. Photograph: PTI Photo
16:42   Amritsar: Most dead are migrant workers from UP, Bihar
Most people who were mowed down by a speeding train in Amritsar during Dussehra celebrations on Friday evening were migrant workers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, an official said in Amritsar on Saturday.

The accident has claimed 59 lives so far out of which 39 bodies have been identified by the authorities.

A senior official in the district administration said most migrant workers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar work in an industrial area at a stone's throw away from the accident site and live nearby.

The Dussehra celebration gathering on Friday evening had a good number of people who belonged to these two states as the festival is celebrated with great devotion and pomp back in their home towns, he said.

"As per initial reports, most of deceased were migrant workers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and were working in the industrial area to earn their livelihood," the official said.

The official, however, did not give exact breakdown of numbers as 20 bodies were yet to be identified.

Jagunandan, a 40-year-old wage labourer from Hardoi in Uttar Pradesh who suffered injuries in the head and leg, said he was not standing near the tracks but was pushed as people started running away from the main stage after the Ravan effigy was set afire.

The father of four was brought to hospital by a relative, who accompanied him to the event.

The district administration is providing all possible help to the family members of deceased in sending bodies to their home town, another official said.

Since morning, a large number of people has been sitting on railway tracks where the accident took place due to which train services have been suspended on this line.

Angry people are raising slogans against the state government, saying that it did nothing to ensure proper security arrangements for the Dusshera event.

The Punjab goverment has ordered magisterial inquiry to ascertain the reason behind the tragic accident.  -- PTI

IMAGE: Relatives of victims of train accident mourn at mass funeral in Amritsar on Saturday. Photograph: PTI Photo
16:10   Court rejects Purohit's plea challenging prosecution sanction
A special National Investigation Agency court in Mumbai on Saturday rejected 2008 Malegaon blast case accused Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit's petition challenging the validity of the prosecution sanction for his trial under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

Special NIA court judge Vinod Padalkar rejected his petition after hearing the arguments of Purohit and other accused in the case.

The court has set October 26 as the next date of hearing in the case.

The Bombay high court had last month rejected Purohit's plea to restrain the trial court from framing charges against him and other accused in the case.

The NIA court was set to frame the charges against him and others, but it was deferred after the accused raised objections over the validity of the prosecution sanction.

A prior sanction for Purohit's prosecution was required since he was a serving Army officer at the time. The sanction was issued on January 17, 2009 by additional chief secretary of the Maharashtra Home department.

Six people were killed and nearly 100 injured when an explosive device strapped to a motorcycle went off near a mosque at Malegaon, a town in Maharashtra's Nashik district, on September 29, 2008.

On December 27, 2017, the special NIA court dismissed the pleas filed by Purohit, his co-accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, and six others seeking discharge from the case.

The court, however, gave them partial relief by dropping all charges against them under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).  --  PTI
15:57   UP: BJP councillor held for thrashing cop
A Bharatiya Janata Party councillor was arrested after he thrashed a sub-inspector, who had visited the councillor's hotel in Meerut with a woman lawyer.

In a video that surfaced on social media, councillor Manish Pawar repeatedly thrashed the sub-inspector, who fell flat on the ground.

When the cop managed to stand up, the councillor hurled abuses at him.

As the cop and the councillor got engaged in another round of argument, the woman, in a fit of rage, threw cutlery around.

She also engaged in a verbal abuse with the councillor.

The councillor has been arrested by the police under Sections 395 and 354 of the Indian Penal Code.

However, BJP MP Vijaypal Singh Tomar claimed that the councillor thrashed the sub-inspector in self-defence.

Tomar alleged that the policeman and the woman lawyer were in a drunken state.

Reacting to the incident, Tomar told ANI, "The BJP will not tolerate such hooliganism and allow others to take law into their own hands. As far as I know, Pawar had a restaurant.

"This sub-inspector and the lady came and were drunk. They gave their order. When it did not come for 10 minutes, they started arguing and threw plates. I do not endorse such fighting.

"He (Pawar) did it in self-defence. However, he should have complained to the concerned authorities. He also thrashed him (sub-inspector) in the police station, after he was arrested."  -- ANI
15:07   Man 'stoned to death by monkeys', family wants them booked
A 70-year-old man was allegedly stoned to death by some monkeys in a village in Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh, putting the police in a fix as the deceased's family wants a first information report to be registered against them.

The incident took place on October 17 in Tikri village of the district.

Circle officer Ramala Rajiv Pratap Singh told PTI that the deceased was sleeping near a pile of bricks when some monkeys jumped on the bricks.

The pile of bricks collapsed and fell on Dharampal, leaving him injured.

He was taken to hospital where he succumbed.

Giving a different narrative, Krishnapal Singh, the brother of the deceased, in his complaint has said that Dharampal was collecting woods for a havan when he was attacked by the monkeys.

Bricks were thrown at his head and chest, and he succumbed to injuries at the hospital.

"We have submitted a written complaint against the monkeys, but the police is terming it as an accident," he said.

He said they will now meet senior officials and request them to initiate action in this regard.  -- PTI

Image only for representation.
14:18   Civic polls: BJP sweeps 4 districts of South Kashmir
The Bharatiya Janata Party won the urban local body elections in four districts of militancy-infested south Kashmir on Saturday, winning 53 of the 132 wards, where polls were held over four phases earlier this month, election officials said.

The unprecedented victory for the saffron party has given it control of at least four of the 20 civic bodies in the four districts of Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama and Shopian.

The results of 94 wards of south Kashmir have been declared so far in which the Congress has managed to win 28 seats. The party, thus, will have control of at least three municipal bodies.

The BJP did well in Shopian where its candidates won in 12 wards unopposed. Five wards in the district did not have any nominations.

In Devsar municipal committee, the party won all the eight seats. The area is represented by Congress leader Mohammad Amin Bhat in the legislative assembly.

The BJP got a simple majority in Qazigund Municipal Committee, winning four of the seven wards. The other three wards had no candidates.

In Pahalgam municipal committee, the party won seven of the 13 seats uncontested, while there were no candidates for the remaining six seats.

The Congress, on the other hand, won a thumping majority in Dooru municipal committee, the stronghold of JKPCC chief G A Mir. The party bagged 14 of the 17 seats, while the BJP managed to win two seats. One seat remained vacant.

Congress also won in Kokernag municipal committee, bagging six of the eight seats. In Yaripora, the party bagged three seats, while the remaining three seats were vacant due to absence of candidates.

Independents bagged 13 seats in the polls.

The counting of votes of Anantnag and Mattan -- the other two civic bodies in south Kashmir -- is going on and the results are expected later Saturday.

Elsewhere, Congress won the Budgam municipal committee bagging six seats, while the BJP won four seats. Three seats were vacant.

In Chrar-e-Sharief, Congress won 11 of the 13 seats, while the remaining two seats were vacant. In Chadoora too, the party won six of the eight seats, while there was no candidate for the other five seats  -- PTI
14:04   UN chief, Putin, Trudeau condole Amritsar tragedy
Russian President Vladimir Putin, United Nations chief Antonio Guterres and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Saturday offered condolences to India on the train accident near Amritsar, which claimed 61 lives.

According to the Russian embassy, Putin offered condolences to President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the train accident.

He conveyed his support to families of the victims of the train accident.

"I offer my deepest sympathies over tragic consequences of an accident on railways in the Punjab state. I ask to convey my words of sympathy and support to families and friends of the killed people and to wish the soonest recovery to those injured," Putin said, according to the Russian embassy.

The UN chief expressed his deepest condolences to the families and friends of the deceased, terming the incident as 'tragic'.

'My heart goes to all in Amritsar following Friday's tragic accident. Earlier this month, I was honoured to visit the Golden Temple and witnessed the warmth and generosity of the people. My deepest condolences to those who have lost family and loved ones,' Guterres said in a tweet.

The Canadian PM also condoled loss of lives in a tweet, 'My thoughts are with everyone who has lost a loved one in the tragic train crash in Amritsar, India. Canadians are keeping you in our hearts tonight & wishing all those injured a full recovery.'  -- PTI

Photograph: Kamal Kishore/PTI Photo
13:31   No permission granted for Dussehra event: Amritsar Municipal Corporation
The Amritsar Municipal Corporation on Saturday said no permission was granted to hold Dussehra celebrations at 'Dhobi ghat' ground.

"Nobody was given the permission for organising the Dussehra event. Moreover, nobody had applied for the permission with the Amritsar Municipal Corporation," Amritsar Municipal Corporation Commissioner Sonali Giri said.

The commissioner said unlike last year, the event was held on a large scale on Friday evening.

"Last year, the scale of the function was not as big as it was witnessed on Friday evening," she said, adding there was also a small temple at the ground.

Navjot Kaur Sidhu, former MLA and wife of Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, was the chief guest of the event.

The event was reportedly organised by Saurabh Madan, husband of Congress Councillor Vijay Madan. Posters of Navjot Singh Sidhu, his wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu, councilor Saurbah Madan and his wife Vijay Madan were displayed at the event.

Opposition parties, including the Akali Dal, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Aam Aadmi Party have demanded strict action against those who gave permission for holding the event.

They have also held the Congress-led Punjab government responsible for allowing the Dussehra celebrations near the railway track.

At the time of the tragic incident, at least 300 people were watching 'Ravana dahan' at the ground adjacent to the elevated rail tracks.

As the effigy was lit and the fireworks went off, a section of the crowd started retreating towards the tracks where a large number of people were already standing to watch the event, officials had said.

Two trains arrived from the opposite direction at the same time giving little time to people to escape, they said.  --  PTI

IMAGE: Relatives of victims of train accident mourn at Civil Hospital in Amritsar on Saturday.  Photograph: Kamal Kishore/PTI Photo
13:05   Amritsar tragedy: CM orders magisterial probe
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the Amritsar tragedy.

He also ordered immediate release of Rs 3 crore to district collecter Amritsar for payment of ex gratia to the families of the deceased.

"We are ordering a magisterial inquiry into the incident under the police commissioner who will submit a report in 4 weeks," Singh said after visiting the Civil Hospital in Amritsar where the injured have been admitted.

"59 people killed and 57 people were injured in the incident. We will try that post-mortem of the bodies are done as soon as possible. We have identified most of the bodies except nine," he said.

"When a tragedy occurs the entire administration gets involved. We have come here as soon as we could come. Today, the entire cabinet of Punjab is here," Singh said.

Meanwhile, scores of people on Saturday staged a sit-in on the railway tracks at the accident site.

The protesters raised slogans against the state government and demanded action against the train driver.

One of the protesters alleged the train passed the area at a high speed and that the driver did not slow down the train despite the presence of a large crowd.  -- ANI, PTI

IMAGE: Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh, with state minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and others, visits Civil Hospital in Amritsar where those injured in the train accident have been admitted. Photograph: ANI
11:56   Amritsar tragedy: 37 trains cancelled, 16 diverted today
The railways cancelled 37 trains and diverted 16 trains on Saturday, a day after Dussehra revellers were mowed down by a train while they were watching the burning of a Ravan effigy while standing on the tracks near Amritsar, officials said.

As many as 61 people were killed and more than 70 injured in the tragedy.

Giving details, the railways said 10 mail/express trains and 27 passenger trains were cancelled.

While 16 trains were diverted and reached their destination through a different route, 18 trains were short terminated, Northern Railways spokesperson Deepak Kumar said.

The route between Jalandhar and Amritsar was suspended, he said.

The railways maintains it had no information about the Dussehra function held near the tracks.

Chairman Railway Board Ashwani Lohani said in a statement that the accident occurred at a midsection between the Amritsar and Manawala stations and not at a level crossing.

"There was no information and no permission sought from us. The event took place at a place adjoining the railway land in private property," he said.

"At midsections trains run at their assigned speeds and people are not expected to be on the tracks At midsections there is no railway staff posted.

"We have staff at the level crossings whose job is to regulate traffic," he added, explaining why the railways was not alerted about the congregation by its staff.

According to Lohani, the gateman was 400 metres away at a level crossing. If the driver had applied emergency breaks, there could have been a bigger tragedy, he said.

The train was running at assigned speed and initial reports suggest that the driver applied brakes and the train slowed down, the top official said.

Refusing to assign any blame, Lohani, who visited the spot at midnight, said the the national transporter has been carrying out campaigns exhorting people not to trespass.

"We will take that forward," he said.  -- PTI
11:04   Making level crossing safer
Former Diplomat K. C. Singh tweets:-

Dear PM @narendramodi as votary of bullet trains, 21st cen R&D etc why haven't Rlwys done a simple tech upgrade like installing radars on trains that will warn drivers of obstacles on track? Not rocket science really! See attached piece.

Here is the piece.
10:54   39 out of 61 killed in Amritsar train accident identified: Officials
Thirty-nine of the 61 people killed in the train accident near  Amritsar have been identified so far, officials said Saturday.
The injured have been admitted to seven hospitals, they said.
According to officials, the post-mortem examination on 29 bodies has been done.
At least 61 people were killed and 72 injured Friday evening after a crowd of Dussehra revellers that had spilled onto railway tracks while watching burning of Ravana effigy was run over by a train near here, officials said.
The train was coming from Jalandhar when the accident occurred at Joda Phatak near Amritsar, where at least 300 people were watching 'Ravana dahan' at a ground adjacent to the tracks. -- PTI  
10:44   Accident shouldn't be politicised: Sidhu; says wife attended to patients
Punjab minister and local MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu said the mowing down of 61 people by a train in Amritsar was an accident and that nobody had done it intentionally. 
He, however, said there was a "big negligence" and asked his detractors not to do politics over the incident. 
"It was an unfortunate incident. I talked to few people who told me that some people were standing on the rail track and some were sitting on a stone near the track," the minister told reporters. 
"When effigy of Ravan was lit, some people retreated back. Then the train came with a great speed and there was no horn and people did not come to know (about the approaching train) and it happened in a matter of just one or two seconds," he said.  
Defending his wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu, who was accused of leaving the accident site without bothering about the victims, the state culture minister said she was attending to patients at the hospital when allegations were being levelled against her.
"When I talked to my wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu Friday, she was in a hospital," he said.  
"I fought elections from here because of my wife. She has been working here. Friday night, when accusations were being levelled against her, she was with patients. She called me up Friday. She came to know about the incident before reaching home. She then immediately reached here," Sidhu said.
Meanwhile, the Congress leader visited local hospitals and met the patients and their relatives Saturday morning.
Sidhu said when he learnt about the accident, he was shocked. He added that he was away to Calicut for a function on Friday.
Refusing to point fingers, the minister said, "Nobody has done it deliberately. However, there is a big negligence (behind this incident)...when I talk about negligence, some people did not even understand their responsibility". 
"Nobody had any intention to do this. There was no motive," he said, adding the incident was an irreparable loss. 
He also requested not to give the incident a "political shape".
"The question is that the accident should not be given political shape. It is an accident. Do not make false allegations and do politics on this issue, Sidhu said.
 At least 61 people were killed and 72 injured Friday evening after a crowd of Dussehra revellers that had spilled onto railway tracks while watching burning of Ravan effigy was run over by a train officials said. -- PTI
10:18   Train tragedy: 7 of the injured in critical condition
Seven of the 70-odd people injured in a train accident near  Amritsar were in critical condition, officials said Saturday.
At least 61 people were killed Friday evening after a Dussehra crowd that had spilled onto railway tracks while watching the burning of a Ravan effigy was run over by a train near Joda Phatak n Amritsar.
The injured were admitted to different hospitals in Amritsar.
"Among the injured, the conditions of seven persons continue to remain critical," an official said.
According to the officials, many of the deceased were yet to be identified.
A forensic science team has reached the site, they said.
The Punjab government has ordered a probe into the incident.
The incident took place on Friday evening when at least 300 people were watching the 'Ravan dahan' at a ground adjacent to the tracks.
As the effigy was lit and fireworks went off, a section of the crowd started retreating towards the tracks where a large number of people were already standing to watch the event, officials had said. -- PTI
09:00   Train services affected after accident
Eight trains have been cancelled and 5 trains diverted today between Jalandhar and Amritsar after a train mowed down 61 people near Amritsar on Friday, ANI reports. 

Ten other trains have been short-terminated while 5 trains short-originated.
08:53   Woman asked to shun hijab at workplace or resign in Pakistan
A woman worker of a software firm in Pakistan was told to either stop wearing hijab at workplace or resign, in perhaps the first incident of its kind in the Muslim-majority country.
The incident caused an uproar on social media, leading to the resignation of Chief Executive Officer Jawwad Kadir of the Creative Choas company.
She was told that she could keep her job only if she took off her hijab by her line manager who said that wearing hijab would spoil the company's image as an "all-embracing" workplace.
The woman said that she was offered alternative jobs in two Islamic banks if she left.
Kadir initially tried to downplay the incident by issuing an apology.
"Yesterday, a senior member of our staff asked a colleague to resign on unprofessional and unethical grounds. She was told that her obligations may come in the way of her performance," Kadir said.
"Not only is this action disgraceful but shows extremely poor moral judgement by her hiring manager. I take full responsibility for this failure and am deeply ashamed that a colleague was put through distress and trauma," he said.
Kadir said the victim has been asked to withdraw her resignation and resume her job.
A Facebook post detailing the trauma faced by the hijab-wearing woman caused a hue and cry with majority of people terming it as discrimination against the woman.
The software firm in a Facebook post later said Kadir had been asked to step down "for workplace discrimination".
In an email sent to the board members and associates, titled "My apology is not enough", Kadir said he was resigning as the CEO of the software house.
"I have crossed a line which I deeply regret," he wrote in the email, a copy of which was available on social media. -- PTI  
08:48   Amritsar tragedy 'clear case of trespassing': Railways officials
The gathering of people close to tracks near Amritsar where a train mowed down Dussehra crowd was a "clear case of trespassing" and no permission for the event had been given by the railways, a senior official told PTI.
Seeking to shift the blame for the tragedy on the Amritsar administration, official sources said the local authorities were aware about the Dussehra programme and that it was attended a senior minister's wife.
"We're not kept in the loop and we provided no permission for the event. It is a clear case of trespassing and the local administration should take responsibility," the railway official said.
Amid questions being raised in some quarters about why the train did not stop despite such a large crowd being there, the official said, "There was so much smoke that the driver was unable to see anything and he was also negotiating a curve."
"However, railways' entire machinery is at the spot and we are cooperating with local administration is rescue and relief operations" the official added.
Medical teams have been rushed to the site of the accident in which at least 61 people, including women and children, died and 72 were injured after the train coming from Jalandhar to Amritsar ran over a crowd standing across the tracks to watch the Dussehra celebration. -- PTI
08:23   Saudi Arabia admits Khashoggi killed in Istanbul consulate
More than two weeks after his disappearance, Saudi Arabia on Saturday admitted that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside its consulate in Istanbul, 

The kingdom also sacked deputy intelligence chief Ahmad al-Assiri and royal court media advisor Saud al-Qahtani, both top aides to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who has faced mounting pressure over the Khashoggi affair.
Saudi Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb confirmed the news saying that prelimenery investigations indicate that Khashoggi died after "discussions" at the consulate devolved into an altercation.

However, he did not disclose any details on the whereabouts of Khashoggi's body.

"Preliminary investigations... revealed that the discussions that took place between him and the persons who met him... at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul led to a brawl and a fist fight with the citizen, Jamal Khashoggi, which led to his death, may his soul rest in peace," the attorney general said in a statement.
Reacting to the news, the White House said it was "saddened" to hear the confirmation of Saudi Arabia's dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi's death, but made no mention of action against the major US ally.
"We are saddened to hear confirmation of Mr Khashoggi's death, and we offer our deepest condolences to his family, fiance and friends," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said after the Saudi Arabia issued a statement saying the journalist was killed in a fist fight with unidentified men inside the consulate.
President Donald Trump said he doesn't think he was lied to by Saudi leaders over the death of Khashoggi.
"I think it's a great first step," Trump said on Saudi Arabia's statement which he says he considers credible.
As many as 18 people have been taken into custody, according to Saudi officials.
An investigation in this regard is on.
"The United States acknowledges the announcement from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that its investigation into the fate of Jamal Khashoggi is progressing and that it has taken action against the suspects it has identified thus far," Sanders said.
"We will continue to closely follow the international investigations into this tragic incident and advocate for justice that is timely, transparent and in accordance with all due process," the White House Press Secretary said.
00:17   J-K: Counting of votes for civic body polls on Saturday
The stage is set for the final leg of urban local body elections in Jammu and Kashmir as the counting of votes for the 52 civic bodies, polling for which was held in four phases earlier this month, will be done on Saturday.
"All the arrangements for counting of votes have been put in place at respective district headquarters. The counting of votes will begin at 9 am tomorrow (Saturday)," an official of the election department said.
The fate of over 3,000 candidates will be decided by the end of the day.
The elections are a direct contest between the BJP and the Congress. A large number of independents are also in the fray. The National Conference and the PDP did not participate in the polls.
The urban local bodies polls in Jammu and Kashmir were held after a gap of 13 years, with the last elections being conducted in 2005.
The polling was held amid tight security arrangements in four phases starting October 8 and ending on October 16. While moderate to heavy polling was witnessed in Jammu and Ladakh regions, the Kashmir valley saw an abysmally low voter turn out.
Nearly 17 lakh voters were eligible to vote for 79 urban local bodies of the state but polling was held only for 52. No voting was held in 27 civic bodies in the Valley either because there was no candidate or only one candidate had filed nominations for a particular ward.
Of the 598 wards in Kashmir, 231 candidates were elected unopposed, while there were no candidates on 181 wards.
The overall voting percentage for these polls in the state stood at 35.1 per cent.
In the valley, there were no signs of any electioneering in the run up to the polls as militant outfits had threatened to target those taking part in the elections in any form, while separatist groups like the Hurriyat Conference had called for a boycott.
The election authorities kept secret the identity of the contesting candidates in view of the security threat to them, prompting political parties, which were against conduct of polls in the present circumstances, to question the genuineness of the process. -- PTI