Border uneasy, trade suspended for three days

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Attari
  • Updated: Nov 04, 2014 12:58 IST

A day after 60 deaths in suicide bombing on the Pakistani side, unease prevailed on Monday at the Attari-Wagah joint check post.The new day started with both countries hoisting their flags around 6.30am at the post and getting back to tense mood, heavy barricading, and high alert. Dog squads and metal detectors were deployed to look for explosives in the luggage of the people arriving from Pakistan aboard the Lahore-Delhi bus. It carried 18 Pakistanis and two Indians.

The Border Security Force (BSF) troops were taking no chances. Their inspector general Ashok Kumar and other officials were at the border to take stock of the measures. “We are in total control,” said Kumar. During the day, the BSF and Pakistan Rangers had a couple of flag meetings.
Sikh Jathacrosses over

A batch of Sikh pilgrims from Canada crossed into Pakistan on foot. Its members said they had no fear but wanted the Pakistan government to look after their security. Back from Pakistan after meeting relatives, Nagpur girl Khushboo Gidwani said people were scared over there after the blast. “There is sudden high security in Pakistan,” she said. A Few passengers arriving from across claimed having seen blood stains on the blast site.

BSF hunch proves right

Since the BSF had intelligence input about an attack near the ceremony area, it had stopped the Indian tourists for the past few days from approaching the border pillar. Hundreds of tourists go to the spot every evening for the thrill of stepping on the zero line and taking pictures, so there was every chance of a stampede after the blast.“We even discourage people from spending more time near the gates,” said a BSF official.

Five-tier security around attari

The approach road to the border on Monday morning was under extraordinary security.
Punjab Police had laid three traps before the customs gate and, the BSF has laid two before the Attari gates. The first police checkpoint was 3 kilometres before Attari, from where vehicles were turned back. The later point was before the integrated check post (ICP) and another a little beyond. Near the customs gate, the BSF personnel were deployed.

Only tourists with Pakistan visas were allowed up to the gates. The blast across had an impact on the cross-border trade as well, since it has been suspended for three days.

A few Pakistani trucks did enter India on Monday but a custom official said it was only because the Pakistani authorities had requested India to clear the area for security purpose.

“Later, they told us their area was sealed and there could be no trade for three days,” he said, adding that reports were that some Pakistani porters had also been killed in the suicide bombing at Wagah on Sunday.

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