India on Friday clarified that the transborder Samjhauta Express was cancelled because of a local agitation in Punjab, hours after Pakistan summoned its envoy and expressed concern.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup rejected Islamabad’s charge that the train was “stopped”, saying Indian authorities had informed their Pakistani counterparts about it in advance.
“Samjhauta Express was among 75 trains traveling through Punjab that were cancelled due to local agitation, including rail blockade,” Swarup said.
The Indian response came as Pakistan summoned India’s acting deputy high commissioner S Raghuram and expressed concern over the cancellation of operation of Samjhauta Express on Thursday due to farmer protest on the Indian side, leaving over 200 passengers from both countries stranded.
The passengers were stranded at the Wagah railway station for over five hours after the train was not allowed to leave for Attari because of the farmers’ protest on rail tracks in Punjab.
“Indian Railway authorities had informed in advance their Pakistani counterparts that the train would not be able to run in such a situation,” Swarup said.
Swarup said as a number of Indians scheduled to travel to India from Pakistan could not do so, the Indian High Commission in Islamabad is in touch with the Pakistan government to ascertain their numbers and ensure that all necessary assistance is extended to them.
The MEA also requested Indian Railways to work with authorities in Punjab to resolve the situation at the earliest, and put extra bogies in the next run for passengers stranded on both sides.
A Pakistan Railways spokesperson said the Samjhauta Express, which ferries passengers from Pakistan on Mondays and Thursdays, would now leave for Attari on Monday.