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Pakistan criticises India for locking doors of train

Rashid condemns Indian officials for not providing the list of dead passengers 18 hrs after the blast.

india Updated: Feb 20, 2007 02:36 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Pakistan's railways minister criticised India on Monday for locking the doors of the 'peace train' hit by firebombs, killing 67 people, mostly Pakistanis.

The ill-fated 'Samjhauta (Friendship) Express' arrived at Wagah, the main border crossing between the two countries, at around 6:15 pm (1315 GMT) -- five hours behind schedule, an AFP correspondent said.

Blasts hit the the train on Sunday night when it was near Deewana station, 100 kilometres (60 miles) north of New Delhi. Afterwards 11 of 16 carriages continued the journey to Pakistan while five remained in India.

As relatives had emotional reunions with loved ones on the train at Wagah, Pakistani railways minister Sheikh Rashid said the carnage had been worse because doors of the carriages had been locked.

"Most of the deaths occurred because the bogies were locked from inside. Some people jumped out of train after breaking window glass," Rashid told state television from Wagah station.

"Many lives could have been saved if the train was not locked from inside," Rashid said.

He added, "I will talk to the prime minister about this so that he should ask the Indians not to lock passengers inside the trains."

Rashid also condemned the fact that Indian officials had not provided a list of dead 18 hours after the blast.

He said arrangements would be made for all the passengers to get home 'and we will provide them free travelling and lodging facilities'.

First Published: Feb 20, 2007 02:36 IST