New Delhi: The Samjhauta Express, a bi-weekly train service between Delhi and Lahore, arrived in Delhi on Friday, a day after it was stopped at the Wagah border by Pakistan citing security concerns. The move by Pakistan came amid rising tensions with India over the latter’s revocation of Article 370 from the state of Jammu & Kashmir.
The train, which connects New Delhi with Lahore, the second-largest city in Pakistan, via Attari in Indian Punjab, made a delayed return to Delhi. It was expected to arrive here at 3:30AM from Attari, but could reach only at around 8AM, nearly 4-and-a-half hours behind schedule. It was scheduled to leave Attari at 8PM on Thursday, but could depart only at 1AM due to immigration check.
There were 117 passengers on board, including 41 Pakistani nationals.
On Thursday, the train was stuck at the Pakistani side of the Wagah border with 110 passengers on board, as the Pakistani crew refused to drive the train, over to the Indian side. An Indian engine brought the train from Wagah to Attari.
The suspension of the services was announced by Pakistan’s Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed who reportedly also said that till the time he was in charge of the ministry, the Samjhuata Express will not run. India, however, said that there would be no suspension of the services from its side and that Pakistan had raised concerns over the safety and security of its crew.
This is not the first time that the Samjhauta Express services have been a casualty of tensions between Indian and Pakistan. Its operations have been suspended multiple times in the past, most recently in February 2019 due to a standoff between the two countries after the Pulwama suicide attack in which over 40 of India’s CRPF personnel were killed.
The move by Pakistan is one among several measures announced by the Imran Khan govt in ‘retaliation’ to India doing away with special status to Jammu & Kashmir.