After imposing restriction in Jammu and Kashmir, amid escalating tensions and security threats near the international border, the Centre on Thursday banned large gatherings banned in Ladakh's Kargil, Dras and Sankoo. Imposing restrictions under Section 144, the district magistrate of the Kargil district said in a release that any assembly of four or more people would attract punitive action. The restrictions came into effect at 5 am on Thursday and would remain until further notice, the release said.
Over 500 important political workers and leaders, including former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, have been detained in Jammu and Kashmir since the Centre decided to revoke provisions of Article 370 and divide the state to two union territories, officials said.
Apart from the Section 144 imposed in the Valley, all communications - including internet - were kept suspended since Sunday, a day before the central government issued an executive order revoking J&K's special status by diluting Article 370.
Pakistan, on the other hand, stopped the Samjhauta Express at the Wagah border on Thursday, citing security concerns, following which an Indian crew and guard escorted the train to Attari on the Indian side, a railway spokesperson said.
He said around 110 passengers were coming to India from Pakistan. A day after Islamabad downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi, Pakistan's Federal Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told the media in Islamabad that Pakistan has closed the Samjhauta Express train service with India. Railway officials here said the train has not been suspended.
"The train has not been suspended. It will run. Pakistan authorities have raised some concerns with regards to security for crew and guard of the Samjhauta Express. We have told them that the situation is normal on this side," said Northern Railway spokesperson Deepak Kumar.
"Our engine with our crew and guard have escorted the train to Attari," he added. On the Indian side, 70 passengers are waiting to cross over to Pakistan, Kumar said.
Explaining the procedure, Kumar said the Samjhauta Express from both Lahore and Delhi come to Attari. At Attari, Delhi-bound passengers coming from Lahore get on to an Indian train. And Lahore-bound passengers board the Pakistani train that retraces its steps back to Wagah and then on to Lahore.
On Thursday, the Samjhauta Express from Lahore did not reach Attari, but remained at Wagah on the Pakistan side. 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 Simla Agreement that settled the 1971 war between the two nations.