Samjhauta Express reaches Attari after Pak minister claimed services suspended
Samjhauta Express that runs between Attari in India and Wagah in Pakistan, reached Attari railway station in Amritsar hours behind schedule, only after India sent a railway engine and a crew to bring it home from Wagah station in Pakistan.
The train was stranded at Wagah railway station for a few hours since 9:30 am Thursday morning as its Pakistani crew refused to enter Indian territory amidst growing tension between the neighbours over the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Around 110 passengers on board the train will head for New Delhi after the completion of immigration process at Attari.
Earlier in the day, confusion reigned supreme as Pakistan railway minister claimed to have ‘shut down’ the Samjhauta Express train service between the two countries; this was denied by Indian railway ministry which attributed the delay in train’s arrival to “concerns regarding security of the train’s crew and guard”. Indian government also made it clear that they had not received any formal notification of suspension of Samjhauta Express from Islamabad.
“#Samjhautaexpress. Train will run. Train is being moved from Wagah and it will come to Attari,” said an official tweet from Indian railway ministry. Samjhauta Express plies twice a week.
Reuters had earlier quoted Pakistan Minister Sheikh Rasheed as saying, “We have decided to shut down Samjhauta Express,” he was further quoted suggesting the services will not be resumed any time soon, “As long as I am railways minister, Samjhauta Express can’t operate,”
Before Pakistan Minister’s tweet surfaced, an Indian Railway official, Deepak Kumar had said, “Pakistan had raised issues regarding security of the train’s crew and guard. We have told them that the situation this side was perfectly normal.”
Station master of Attari railway station close to border with Pakistan, Arvind Kunar Gupta elaborated further, “We got a message from Pakistan railways that the crew members and guards of Samjhauta Express refused to take the train into Indian territory. They allowed us to send our driver and staff to take the train from Wagah.”
A train engine along with a driver and other necessary staff was sent from Amritsar to bring the Samjhauta Express-- stuck at Wagah since 9:30 am—home.
The move comes after Indian Parliament okayed scrapping of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and dividing the state into two Union Territories. This was strongly criticised by Pakistan, which held a special session of its Parliament to condemn the issue and later decided to downgrade ties with New Delhi.