July 27, 2020
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Brass Tacks Of A Blast

The Samjhauta Express, started over 30 years ago, has had a fitful run. What exactly happened on February 18?

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Brass Tacks Of A Blast
Brass Tacks Of A Blast
Trains To Pakistan

Samjhauta Express

  • Launched on July 22, 1976, under the Simla Agreement.
  • Service first discontinued for a fortnight in 1984 because of Punjab insurgency. Later the train was put on hold temporarily following the Babri Masjid demolition in December 1992. Frequency reduced to bi-weekly service.
  • Discontinued on January 1, 2002, after December 13 Parliament attack. Services resumed on January 15, 2004.
  • Number of coaches: 16
  • Average number of passengers: 600
  • Cost of the ticket (Delhi-Lahore): Rs 167 (general category); Rs 243 (reserved class).
(Though commonly referred to as Samjhauta Express, the train that was attacked was the link service from Delhi to Attari. From here the passengers proceed to Wagah and then on to Lahore.)

Thar Express

  • Operates from Jodhpur to Karachi.
  • Started on February 18, 2006. Stopped on August 25, 2006, due to the floods. Restarted on February 17, 2007.
  • Runs from Jodhpur in India to Khokrapar in Pakistan, and then proceeds to Karachi.
  • Maximum passengers allowed: 400
  • Number of coaches: 7
  • Cost of the ticket: Rs 300

The Bomb

The bomb was initially seen as a crude device. Experts now point out that beyond the bottles of kerosene/petrol and low- intensity explosives like sulphur and electronic timers, there was a complicated circuitry which couldn't have been put in place by an ordinary operative. The wiring inside the suitcases was the handiwork of an expert. Which is why intelligence agencies believe that while the bombs may have been planted by locals, the operation was masterminded by fringe elements of Pakistan's ISI.

The Journey

10:50 PM:
Samjhauta Express leaves Old Delhi railway station for Attari. The train was carrying 604 passengers. Eyewitnesses say security is extremely lax; passports are not strictly checked.

11:53 PM: Gateman at Diwana station, 10 km from Panipat, hears a blast. Assistant Station Master spots the coaches on fire and alerts the driver.

11:55 PM: Train stops near Siwah. Villagers rush to douse the fire in the compartments. Messages are relayed to Delhi, Panipat for help.

12:30 AM: Fire tenders, ambulances arrive. Dead and injured taken to Panipat and Delhi.

6:20 PM: The two damaged bogies are decoupled, train resumes journey towards Attari

Dead: 68
Injured: 10

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