New Delhi: After Pakistan suspended the running of Samjhauta Express following the abrogation of Article 370 that accorded special status to Jammu and Kashmir, India on Tuesday asked the neighbouring country to return the rake of the train lying at Wagah for the past five months.
As per updates from Railway Ministry, the Ministry of External Affairs has already conveyed the request to Islamabad.
“On our (Railways) request, the MEA has asked Pakistan authorities to return our rake as soon as possible,” a senior railway official told PTI.
After the train service was suspended, the rakes of the express were last used on August 8, 2019 when Pakistan stopped the Samjhauta Express at the Wagah border. The suspension of the train service left nearly 117 passengers stranded at that time.
The Samjhauta Express, which was supposed to reach Attari at 12.30 PM, finally arrived on the Indian side at 5.15 PM after Indian Railways sent its engine, crew and security to bring the train and its passengers from Wagah border to Attari.
As per updates, the two countries take rotational turns of six month each to use their rakes for the Samjhauta Express. Rakes belonging to Pakistan are used from January to June and rakes belonging to Indian side are used from July to December.
After the train reaches its destination, the rakes are generally returned to the home country on the same day or after an overnight stay. However, this is the first time that a rake has been stranded on the other side for a period of five months.
With the objective to improve people-to-people contact between the India and Pakistan, the Samjhauta Express started its service in July 1976. It was done after the Simla Agreement. However, the train service has been stopped whenever relations between the two countries got strained.
Named after Hindi word for ‘agreement’, the train comprises six sleeper coaches and an AC 3-tier coach. The train service was started in 1976 to settle the 1971 war between the two countries.