India suspends Thar Link Express amid tensions with Pakistan over Kashmirhttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-suspends-jodhpur-munabao-thar-link-express-after-pakistan-discontinue-services-5910565/

India suspends Thar Link Express amid tensions with Pakistan over Kashmir

The relations between India and Pakistan has become strenuous after the Centre's decision to scrap the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.

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The Samjhauta Express train returns to Attari railway station in Amritsar district on Thursday. (Rana Simranjit Singh)

Amid the ongoing tension with Pakistan over the Kashmir issue, India on Friday suspended the weekly Jodhpur-Munabao Thar Link Express, news agency PTI reported. The link train departs from Bhagat ki Koti near Jodhpur and reaches Munabao, a village on the India-Pakistan border in Rajasthan.

The train’s scheduled journey on Friday will not take place, North Western Railway’s Chief Public Relations Officer Abhay Sharma told PTI. “Thar Express rail services are being suspended till further orders by the Railways,” Sharma said in a statement. The spokesperson added that 45 people had booked tickets for this train to go to Pakistan.

On August 9, Pakistan had announced that it discontinue train services of the Thar Express, which runs across the Rajasthan border linking the two nations. However, it gave clearance for its last journey to Karachi, which had 165 passengers on board.

The move comes days after India cancelled the Samjhauta Express from its side. The “link” express train, that took passengers to Attari from where passengers could board the train to Pakistan, stands cancelled. “In consequent to Pakistan’s decision to cancel Samjhauta Express 14607/14608 running between Lahore and Atari… the link express train number 14001/ 14002 running between Delhi and Attari also stands cancelled,” Deepak Kumar, Chief Public Relations Officer of Northern Railway had said.

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At a press conference in Islamabad, Pakistan’s Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid had said, “As long as I am railways minister, Samjhauta Express and Thar Express will not operate. That’s it.”

People see off their relatives for the last India-bound Thar Express train at Karachi Railway Station in Pakistan. (AP)

After a 41-year suspension, the Thar Express resumed its services on February 18, 2006, connecting Jodhpur’s Bhagat ki Kothi station to Karachi and running every Friday night. The services were briefly suspended on February 28 this year after the relations between the two nuclear-armed countries nosedived in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack

The relations between India and Pakistan has become strenuous after the Centre’s decision to scrap the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. As part of downgrading diplomatic ties with India. Islamabad had suspended the bi-weekly Samjhauta train service connecting Lahore and Delhi.