Wednesday, November 29, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Pak national dies at Attari
1,200 Samjhauta passengers stranded
From Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

ATTARI, Nov 28 — Several stranded passengers who were to reach Lahore by the Samjhauta Express could not observe fast on the first day of Ramzan today.

As the BSF had closed the Indo-Pakistan gate yesterday in protest against the late arrival of the train at Zero Point, at least 1200 passengers had to take shelter in coaches of the Delhi-Attari special train (4000-two Dn) at the Attari station. A Pakistani national, Muhammad Sumair (61), a resident of Mirpur district in Pakistan, was found dead at midnight.

The Government of India has reportedly lodged a strong protest with the Pakistan Government for the late arrival of the train. Mr S.K. Madan, Station Master, claimed that ever since the new agreement signed between India and Pakistan on November 1 came into force, the Pakistani Railways had run the train late on each occasion, thereby causing harassment to passengers.

Sources claimed that the Government of Pakistan had also lodged a protest with the Indian Government on the death of the Pakistani national, who was among those stranded at the Attari railway station.

Two Indian Muslims, Shaukat Ali and Salamat Tula, blamed Pakistan for the late arrival of the train. They felt that Pakistan being as Islamic state should have kept in mind that it was the holy month of Ramzan.

Officials of the Customs, the General Railway police, the Immigration and other agencies working at the Attari railway station organised a ‘langar’ (community kitchen) at the platform and made arrangements for the passengers to spend the night in the coaches of the train.

Railway officials claimed that the train reached Zero Line at about 6 pm, an hour behind schedule. At about 10.40 pm, it was signalled to return to Pakistan.

Anwar Ahmad of Delhi claimed the passenger who had died was ill.

The train which was sent back arrived today at 12.40 pm. It left for Lahore at 3.20 pm taking all stranded passengers and the dead body. More than 1,000 passengers who were stranded at the Wagah railway station on the Pakistan side also reached well in time today.

Officials of the BSF claimed that they had to close the gates at Zero Line as any delay in arrival made foolproof security almost impossible.

Referring to the threat perception, the officials said as the train moved at a slow speed on the route, anyone could get off the train and disappear in the darkness. The BSF had on a number of occasions in the past objected to the late arrival of this train at meetings with their counterparts, the Pakistani Rangers.

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