JAIPUR: After the removal of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir, the Thar Link Express reached Rajasthan's Jodhpur on Sunday morning from Pakistan. The train has come to India carrying 165 passengers from Pakistan which includes 103 Pakistani and 62 Indian citizens. Although the journey was completed without a hiccup, there is apprehension whether the train will cross the border again next Friday. Passengers say they were told in Karachi that this was the last journey of the train but wish that the train should continue running and not be stopped.
It is notable that on Friday, Pakistan Railway Minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, announced the closure of all rail services to India. Amidst doubts and apprehensions, the Thar Express, which left Bhagat's Kothi station in Jodhpur, arrived in Pakistan on Saturday with 168 passengers. Thereafter, there was confusion about the return of passengers from Pakistan. But the train arrived at Bhagat's Kothi railway station in Jodhpur with a total of 165 passengers on Sunday at half-past eight.
According to Chetanlal, a Pakistani national who arrived in Jodhpur from Pakistan by the Thar Link Express on Sunday, there was news at the Karachi station that the Thar Express train had been stopped. After two to four hours, local people said that those who want to go should go as after now this train will not operate.
Tears of happiness were seen in everyone's eyes as soon as the passengers met their relatives waiting at the railway station. Many of these relatives were meeting after a couple of decades. The passengers who came to India had a feeling of concern along with happiness. They were worried about the train being stopped and said that it should continue running.
Under the agreement between the two countries, train to Pakistan operates from Karachi to Munabao railway station in Barmer, India for 6 months. For other 6 months, Indian train runs from Bhagat's Kothi railway station in Jodhpur to Khokrapar in Sindh province of Pakistan. Munabao is the last railway station in India, while Khokrapar is the last railway station in Pakistan. At the moment, the Indian train is running now and will do so till 31st August.
Till now no authorized information has been given to the passengers about the stopping of the train from Pakistani Railways. However, the Indian Railway Administration has spoken about the regular operation of the train. But whether this operation will be possible or not is a question.
"Train operations between the two countries are an international matter. Decisions are made for the operation or cancellation of the train from the Ministry of Railways or Railway Board level. At the moment we have not received any instructions to cancel the next round of the Thar Express. According to the information so far it should be as per schedule", said Gopal Sharma, Senior Public Relations Officer, Jodhpur Railway Board, North Western Railway