DHAKA: It was a moment of happiness and a day to cheer for many residing on the Bangladesh side of the Indo-Bangla border as the railway line from Chilahati to Haldibari in India was reopened, ending the residents' 55-year-old wait to see trains plying once again on a route that was lying defunct since 1965.
On Thursday, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart NarendraModi jointly inaugurated the rail link via video conference.
The railway line from Haldibari in Cooch Behar in the Indian state of West Bengal to Chilahati in northern Bangladesh has been non-operational since rail links between India and then East Pakistan were snapped in 1965.
Marking the occasion, Nilphamari'sChilahati Railway Station wore a festive look as thousands gathered to celebrate the historic revival.
MotiMiah, 75, walked 5 km by foot to witness the celebrations, recalling his "childhood's golden memories". The inauguration of the rail link was telecast on a big screen at around 11.30 a.m.
Expressing happiness, while watching a freight train leaving Bangladesh for India, he told IANS: "I used to travel to my maternal aunt's family in India from this station during my childhood. When train services got suspended, I could not visit Cooch Behar, where my cousins and their family live.
"I hope to see my nephews and nieces... and my cousins who are still alive. It is the best gift of my life I got before my death from our prime minister Sheikh Hasina and Indian PM Modi," an emotional Miah said.
He also appealed to both the state leaders to start the passenger train services immediately. Moyna Begum, 65, a resident of Domarupazila, came on feet by walking 4 km to witness the occasion.
"I had travelled to Silchar in Assam by the train on this route with my parents when I was a child... But since a long time, we have not been able to go there. I wish to visit India again to recall my childhood memories," she said.
Following the official inauguration, a freight train carrying goods in a total of 32 wagons left the Chilahati Railway Station at 12.48 p.m. for India.
Bangladesh Railways Minister MdNurul Islam Sujan formally inaugurated the train service by blowing a whistle and waving a green flag.
The distance between Haldibari Railway Station and the international border is 4.5 km while that from Chilahati till zero point is around 7.5 km.
Both Haldibari and Chilahati stations were on the old broad gauge railway route between Siliguri and Kolkata that went through areas in the present-day Bangladesh.
After a long gap of 55 years, the railway link connecting Bangladesh's Chilahati to Haldibari, West Bengal, India, has been reopened with the aim of further promoting transport and connectivity between India and Bangladesh. (IANS)