Uncertainty looms over Thar Link Express after Samjhauta service stopped
The stopping of Samjhauta Express- the main cross-border train service between India and Pakistan, has raised concern over the Thar Link Express - a weekly train that runs between Jodhpur to Munabao in India and Khokhrapar to Karachi in Pakistan.
Samjhauta Express is a bi-weekly train that runs between Delhi and Attari in India and Lahore in Pakistan. Its service was stopped by Islamabad on Thursday - one among the steps taken by Pakistan - after the recent decision by New Delhi to revoke Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
Every Saturday, the Thar Link Express departs from Bhagat Ki Kothi railway station on the outskirts of Jodhpur, and makes a 320km journey to Munabao in Barmer on the international border. The train then crosses over to Pakistan.
However, earlier till 1965, the Sindh Mail used to run on this route. But during the 1965 Indo-Pak war, Pakistani forces targeted Sindh Mail after which the services were stopped. Later on February 18, 2006, the rail service was resumed between Indian and Pakistan on this route as Thar Link Express.
Although Pakistan has yet not made any announcement about Thar Link Express service, but there are apprehensions that fresh tension between the two countries may also affect this train.
Watch | Samjhauta Express services shut down by Pakistan
Since this service was started, approximately four lakh passengers have travelled in this train. Every week hundreds of Pakistani and Indian passengers commute on this train to meet their relatives on the other side of the border.
In such a situation, locals do not want any disturbance to the Thar Express. Local resident Tirth Dan, who came to India in 2006 and recently got the Indian Citizenship in June this year, said that Thar Express is not merely a train. In his words, it is a journey of relationship.
Dan said, “On both the sides of the border, many families have their blood relatives and after a long wait of four decades, they are now able to meet them.”
Gopal Sharma, spokesperson at Northern Western Railway, said that they have no information or any direction to suspend the service of Thar Link Express. He said that till now the train is supposed to run on its scheduled date and time.
Thar Link Express service had remained unaffected after the tense situation between both the countries after the Pulwama attack. Although the Samjhauta Express was suspended for a brief while, it was restored within weeks.