Tribune News Service
Amritsar, February 28
Amid tension between India and Pakistan, the bi-weekly Samjhauta Express train service between the two nations has been temporarily suspended.
The train with 42 passengers on board left the Old Delhi station on Wednesday at 11.10 pm and arrived at Attari at 6.45 am on Thursday.
The passengers were to be shifted to another train coming from the Wagah side to be ferried to their final destination, Lahore. Much to their disappointment, the train service was suspended.
Attari Railway Station Superintendent Arvind Kumar Gupta said a message by the Pakistani authorities on aborting the train service was received at 8.45 am.
“Accordingly, arrangements were made for the safe departure of passengers, who had already arrived at the Attari station.”
With the help of the immigration authorities, they later crossed the border via the land route.
Pakistan had on Wednesday cancelled the train’s trip on the Wagah-Lahore stretch on their side, even as 27 passengers—23 Indians and three from the neighbouring country—arrived at Attari from Delhi on an Indian rake which left the Old Delhi Railway station at 11:20 pm last night.
The Wagah station master sent a message to his Attari counterpart that the passenger and parcel train, which comes to Attari station from the Pakistan side at 12.30 pm, will not be coming till further notice, officials said.
Earlier in the day, a Pakistan Foreign Office (FO) spokesman said in a statement the operations of the train had been suspended on “Thursday in view of the prevailing tensions between Pakistan and India.”
The biweekly train was scheduled to depart from Lahore with 16 passengers.
“The Samjhauta Express will resume its operations as soon as the security situation improves between India and Pakistan,” the FO said, not giving any specific date for resuming the services.
Originally, the train offered a through service with one rake going all the way between the terminals—Delhi in India to Lahore in Pakistan. However, now a Pakistani rake stops at Attari at which point passengers have to change trains and board an Indian rake.
The Samjhauta Express, named after the Hindi word for “agreement”, comprises six sleeper coaches and an AC3-tier coach. The train service was started on July 22, 1976, under the Simla Agreement that settled the 1971 War between the two nations.
From Lahore, the train departs on Monday and Thursday.
Sources said the footfall on the train, which generally records an occupancy of around 70 per cent, has fallen drastically post the Pulwama attack on February 14 in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed. — With PTI
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