With Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman back in India from Pakistan’s custody, and hostilities between the two nations dialed down several notches, both India and Pakistan have agreed to resume the services of the Samjhauta Express train that was suspended earlier this week.
The first train will leave from India on March 3, an official release said.
Pakistan had cancelled the train service from its end after an Indian Air Force package of jets unloaded bombs on the biggest training camp run by terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed in Pakistan’s Balakot, which had claimed responsibility for the deaths of 40 CRPF soldiers in a suicide attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
India reciprocated on February 28, cancelling the operation of the train, which runs from Delhi to Attari and from Lahore to Wagah on the Pakistan side.
Pakistan had dispatched 24 fighter aircraft to target Indian military installations, in response to the Indian Air Force strike on the Jaish camp. The Pakistani jets dropped laser guided bombs, but couldn’t inflict any major damage, the Indian military informed later.
A formation of eight Indian jets intercepted the Pakistani formation and chased them away. Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was piloting a MiG 21 Bison, shot down a Pakistani F-16. He was also hit by an AMRAAM missile and had to eject. He landed in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir and was captured.
Under international pressure, Pakistan on Friday released the brave heart.
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman has been shifted to an Indian Air Force hostel after a medical check-up at a military hospital, sources said.
The Samjhauta Express, named after the Hindi word for “agreement”, comprises six sleeper coaches and an AC 3-tier coach. The train service was started on July 22, 1976 under the Shimla Agreement that settled the 1971 war between the two nations.
With inputs from PTI