India on Friday discontinued operations of the Thar Link Express, connecting Jodhpur in Rajasthan to Karachi in Pakistan, railway officials told PTI. The move came days after the Samjhauta Express was cancelled as Pakistan suspended services on its side in protest against the Indian government’s decision to revoke special status for Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.
The Thar Link Express’ journey, scheduled for early morning on Saturday, was cancelled as authorities proceeded to cancel the 45 tickets that had been issued. “The Thar Express has been suspended till further orders,” Gopal Sharma, the spokesperson for Jodhpur Division-North Western Railway was quoted as saying. “The directions were issued by the railway ministry to the North Western Railway on Friday.”
The weekly train would depart from Jodhpur’s Bhagat ki Kothi railway station on Saturdays and reach Munabao in Rajasthan’s Barmer district – the last stop on the Indian side, early in the morning. Passengers would switch trains at the international border as another train from Pakistan would take them to Karachi.
Services for the Thar Express had resumed on February 18, 2006, after a 41-year-long suspension. Estimatedly, over 4 lakh passengers have availed of the train services between the two countries in the last 13 years.
Last week, 165 Pakistan-bound passengers had boarded the train, even after Pakistan had suspended services from its side, amid apprehension that the service would be suspended at the last minute, according to PTI. The train from Pakistan, which the country’s Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed had claimed was the last one, had also been received by India.
This comes amid heightened tension between the two countries over Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan has criticised India’s decisions for the region and also approached the United Nations Security Council in the matter. A meeting of the international authority on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is expected on Friday.