Amid reports that Pakistan has suspended Samjhauta Express, Indian Railways on Thursday maintained that the train service has not been suspended.
The railways have clarified that the train service has not been suspended but Pakistan authorities have refused to send their crew to India citing security concern.
"Samjhauta Express plies between Lahore and Attari which ain from Wagah, Pakistan to Attari, Punjab here.
"The train is standing in the Wagah side which has around 110 passengers and our engine has also left from Attari. We'll bring the train from Wagah to Attari. 70 passengers are waiting here who will travel to Pakistan. So to say that the train has been cancelled is not right," he added.
Meanwhile, Attari Station Master has also confirmed that the services have not stopped and Pakistan has asked us to send the engine to bring passengers.
"Services haven't stopped. Pakistan's driver and the guard refused to come to India. So they sent us a message to send engine with Indian crew and guard. They'll go with engine and bring the train," AK Gupta said.
The escalation between the two countries has escalated after India abrogated Article 370 and Article 35 (A) by the BJP-led Central government that provided special rights and status to Jammu and Kashmir.
Last night after a meeting of the National Security Council chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan decided to downgrade diplomatic ties. It asked India to withdraw its High Commissioner to Pakistan and also decided not to send its High Commissioner-designate to New Delhi. It also partially shut off its airspace and suspended bilateral trade with India.
The Samjhauta Express, commonly called the Friendship Express, is a bi-weekly train--Thursday and Monday--that runs between Delhi and Attari in India and Lahore in Pakistan since 1976 after the Shimla Accord between the two countries. The word Samjhauta means "agreement", "accord" and "compromise" in both Hindi and Urdu.
Last time, the operations of Samjhauta Express were suspended on February 28, following the Pulwama terror attack that was carried out by Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed or JeM that killed more than 40 CRPF jawans on February 14. But it was resumed shortly later.
Calling its steps in Jammu and Kashmir as an "entirely internal affair", India has further rejected Pakistan's unilateral move to downgrade diplomatic ties and asked Islamabad to review them so that normal channels for diplomatic communications are preserved.
( With inputs from ANI )