Samjhauta Express: India has asked Pakistan to return its Samjhauta Express rake which has been lying at Wagah for the past five months, after the train service was suspended due to tense relations between the two nations, following the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. According to a recent PTI report, Indian Railways officials stated that the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has conveyed the request to Islamabad. A senior Indian Railways official told PTI that after the request made by Indian Railways, the MEA has asked the concerned authorities in Pakistan to return the Samjhauta Express rake as soon as possible.
The Samjhauta Express rakes were last utilized on August 8, 2019 when Pakistan had stopped the train service at the Wagah border leaving as many as 117 passengers stranded, pointing to security concerns after the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. The Samjhauta Express train, which was scheduled to reach Attari in India at 12.30 PM, had finally arrived on the Indian side at 5.15 PM after Indian Railways sent its engine, crew as well as security officials to bring the train and its passengers from Wagah border to Attari.
India and Pakistan take turns of six months each to utilize their rakes for the Samjhauta Express. The rakes which belong to Pakistan are used between the months of January to June while the Indian rakes are used between the months of July to December. Usually, the rakes are being 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 either side for over a period of five months.
The Samjhauta Express train service, which was started in the year 1976 in order to improve the railway connectivity between the two countries after the Simla Agreement, has often been suspended whenever the relations between India and Pakistan got strained. The train has been named after the hindi term for 'agreement', and comprises six sleeper coaches and an AC three-tier coach. The train service was started on July 22, 1976 under the Simla Agreement which settled the 1971 war between the two nations. The authorities in Pakistan had temporarily suspended the train service on February 28, 2019 following the tensions in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF soldiers of India were martyred. The train service operates from Attari twice a week, particularly on Mondays and Thursdays.