Rail services resume in Kashmir after 11 months

Train services were shut after detection of 1st coronavirus case in region on March 18 last year

Rail services resume in Kashmir after 11 months

Jammu and Kashmir (AA) - Train services in the Indian-administered Kashmir resumed Monday after suspension for nearly 11 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a tweet Sunday, Indian Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said: “Railways will resume train operations in the Kashmir region on the Banihal-Baramulla section from Feb. 22, with two services operating initially. This will enhance ease of movement and provide a big boost to the tourism sector.”

The train in Kashmir runs from Banihal in the Jammu region to Baramulla in northern Kashmir, covering a distance of 130 kilometers (81 miles), and 17 stations en route. 

Saqib Yousuf, the chief railway manager from the Northern Railways, told Anadolu Agency Monday: “Today, we begin with two trips. First from northern Kashmir's Baramulla rail link and then from the Banihal link in the Jammu region.”

On March 19, 2020, train services in the region were suspended due to COVID-19 after the first case was detected on March 18.

Earlier, the rail service had been suspended on Aug. 5, 2019, for over three months when the Indian government revoked the limited autonomy of the region and divided it into two federal territories.

In 2016, the train services remained suspended for over six months after rebel commander of Hizbul Mujahideen -- a militant outfit active in the region -- Burhan Wani was killed in a gunfight with the government forces.

Disputed region

Kashmir is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars -- in 1948, 1965, and 1971 -- two of them over Kashmir.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.