Pakistani Rakes of Samjhauta Express
|Track gauge||Indian Gauge 5 ft 6 in|
The Samjhauta Express (Hindi: समझौता एक्सप्रेस, Urdu: سمجھوتا اکسپريس) commonly called the Friendship Express, is a twice-weekly train – Tuesdays and Fridays – that runs between Delhi and Attari in India and Lahore in Pakistan. The word samjhauta means "agreement","accord" and "compromise" in both Hindi and Urdu.
Until the reopening of the Thar Express, this was the only rail connection between the two countries. The train was started on July 22, 1976 following the Shimla Agreement and ran between Amritsar and Lahore, a distance of about 42 km. Following disturbances in Punjab in the late eighties, due to security reasons Indian Railways decided to terminate the service at Attari, where customs and immigration clearances take place. On April 14, 2000, in an agreement between Indian Railways and Pakistan Railways (PR), the distance was revised to cover just under three km.
It was a daily train when the service started, and changed to a bi-weekly schedule in 1994. Earlier the rakes were returned to the home country the same day but later in 2000 the rake remained overnight at that location.
Its termini are Lahore in Pakistan and Delhi in India. The border crossing takes place between Wagah in Pakistan and Attari in India. Originally, this was a through service with the same rake going all the way between the termini; later the Pakistani rake stopped at Attari at which point passengers had to change trains. The train service was set up with an agreement between Indian Railways (IR) and Pakistan Railways (PR) to alternately use an Indian and a Pakistani rake and locomotive for the train, six months at a time.
The train usually has between four and eight coaches. The rake supplied by Pakistan is usually hauled by an Alco DL-543 class ALU20 diesel loco (Lahore shed), with the entire train in the standard dark green livery of PR.
The train's first break of service was when it was discontinued on January 1, 2002 in the wake of the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001. Service resumed on January 15, 2004. Service was also suspended following the 27 December 2007, assassination of Benazir Bhutto as a preventive measure to deny militants a “high-value target” that was of great symbolic importance to both India and Pakistan.
In the early hours of February 19, 2007, sixty-eight people (mostly Pakistani civilians and a few Indian military guarding the train) were killed and scores more injured in a terrorist attack on this "Peace Train". The attack occurred at Diwana station near the Indian city of Panipat, Haryana. Officials found evidence of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and flammable material, including three un-detonated IEDs. The National Investigation Agency has stated that the blasts were masterminded by Swami Aseemanand, a Hindu religious leader. Swami Aseemanand born as Jatin Chatterjee in West Bengal, joined the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, inspired by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in 1978.
On July 1, 2009, the US Department of Treasury designated Arif Qasmani of the Lashkar-e Tayyiba as a person involved in terrorism, citing among other things his involvement in the Samjhauta Express bombing.
On December 30, 2010, India's National Investigation Agency claimed that they had solid evidence that Swami Aseemanand was the mastermind behind the blasts. He had roped in Sandeep Dange, an engineering graduate, and Ramji Kalsangra, an electrician, to build the improvised explosive devices used in the blasts. On January 8, 2011, Aseemanand allegedly confessed the bombing of Samjhauta express, a statement later found to be obtained under duress. Later the Hindu nationalist group RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) sent a legal notice to CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) accusing it of deliberately leaking Swami Aseemanand's confession in the media. RSS spokesman Ram Madavh called the investigation maligning of organizations and individuals.
According to various local newspapers, NIA arrested Kamal Chauhan, who is deemed by the NIA as the main operative, in February 2012.
- The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) | Frontpage | India waits, steps up Pak vigil
- Rs.505 crore drug bust from India-bound Samjhauta Express Vikas Kahol, Mail Today, Chandigarh, October 8, 2012, indiatoday.intoday.in
- Heroine worth R 505 crore, ammunition seized from Samjhauta Express, Chandigarh, Oct 08 2012, Dailybhaskar.com
- Zee News - Passengers recount horror on blast-hit train
- "Direct hand of Aseemanand in Samjhauta blasts: NIA". Hindustan Times. 2010-12-30. Retrieved 2012-02-05.
- "Treasury Targets Al Qaida and Lashkar-E Tayyiba Networks in Pakistan". Treasury.gov. Retrieved 2012-02-05.
- Vishwa Mohan; Abantika Ghosh (8 January 2011). "Aseemanand owns up to strike on Mecca Masjid". Times of India. Retrieved 8 January 2011.
- Swami Aseemanand 'confessed' under duress Times of India - January 10, 2011
- Iyer, Shekhar (8 January 2011). "Indresh lawyers issue notice to CBI for statement 'leak'". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 8 January 2011.