Resumption of motorised trade by India and Pakistan after 60 years of Partition on Monday was marred by violent protests by hundreds of porters fearing loss of livelihoods on both sides of the border.
A truck laden with tomatoes crossed the Attari border amid much fanfare on the Indian side and a lukewarm response across the border as angry porters smashed windowpanes of more than 10 trucks awaiting clearance. They also beat up two drivers, raising slogans against the government.
Reports of similar protests were received from the Pakistani side as well.
The porters used to carry goods across the border manually till and are now uncertain about their future with the entry of trucks carrying goods across the border.
Upset over the attacks by the porters, exporters demanded foolproof safety and security of life for themselves and their goods. They blamed the district administration and Customs officials.
Earlier, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who flagged off the first truck to Pakistan to give an impetus to the multi-billion dollar trade, termed it as the beginning of a golden era for both countries. He demanded duty-free trade for all commodities between the two countries and visa centres in Amritsar and Lahore.
“We hope to head for a situation when farmers from Amritsar would be selling their products in Lahore and vice-versa,” said MP Sukhbir Singh Badal, the CM’s son and acting president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).