Pakistan stops Samjhauta Express at Wagah

Indian crew escorts train to Attari
Last Updated 08 August 2019, 13:36 IST

Pakistan on Thursday abruptly announced the discontinuing of the Samjhauta Express - the bi-weekly peace train running between the two nations - leaving over a hundred passengers edgy and stranded for over 3-hours at the Wagah border on the Pakistani side.

Passengers on board the Samjhauta Express were to reach the Indian side at the Attari railway station in Punjab’s Amritsar this afternoon. However, soon after Pakistan’s Federal railways' minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed announced the termination of the Samjhauta Express train service, Pakistan declined to send its locomotive driver, engine and train crew any further from its bounds.

Till I am Railways minister, Samjhauta Express train service will not operate”, Rashid Ahmed announced at a news conference in Pakistan today.

There were reportedly 110 passengers on board who were either visiting India or were returning after a stay in Pakistan as visitors.

After Pakistan’s refusal, Indian authorities acted swiftly, sending a locomotive driver, a guard and a train engine from Amritsar to Pakistan’s Wagah to bring back stranded passengers safely to India.

At 5.20 pm, the train finally reached the Attari border, with passengers heaving a sigh of relief. A K Gupta, Superintendent of Attari, said all passengers who were stuck at the Wagah border in Pakistan reached safely.

Passengers headed straight to the custom and immigration counters at Attari for the further journey. According to sources, the travel status of the passengers who were to return to Pakistan from India is still unclear in the wake of the train service being suspended.

The goods train comprises sleeper coaches and an AC 3-tier coach was started in July 1976 under the Shimla agreement. In February this year, the train service was temporarily discontinued amid growing tensions between the two nations after the Pulwama terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir.

On Wednesday, Pakistan announced the downgrade of its diplomatic ties with India.

(Published 08 August 2019, 12:10 IST)

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