The size of Indian anger over the killing of 18 soldiers in the Uri terror attack was evident in the rush to the Monday-evening retreat ceremony at the Attari-Wagah border with Pakistan.
Despite security enhancement, the attendance was so big that the galleries ran short of space. Even foreign tourists arrived in big number with no look of fear. The aggression rubbed on to the Border Security Force (BSF) and it went eyeball to eyeball with Pakistan Rangers during the evening parade along the zero line.
The crowd backed its soldiers with the slogans of ‘Hindustan Zindabad’, ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’, and ‘Vande Mataram’. Outnumbered five to one, the Pakistani crowd was also outshouted.
The BSF jawans stomped harder and swung their arms more assertively as they marched up to the Rangers. Before the ceremony, the Indian spectators in Tricolour caps danced for several minutes to the beat of patriotic songs, waving the national flag. “Uri is far from Punjab. The Punjab border is secure. There is nothing to fear,” Yaman Gupta of Panipat (Haryana), who had arrived with family, said. “You can see our sense of security in our enthusiasm.”
Balwinder Singh, a dhaba owner, said: “The visitor count did fall during the terror attack on the Dinanagar police station in Gurdaspur district. Terror strikes in Kashmir are a routine and can’t affect the tourist morale.”
The security of cross-border train Samjhauta Express has been increased after the Uri terror attack. Generally, 27 personnel of Government Railway Police (GRP) are deployed at the Attari station. “On Monday, we had 20 more,” said sub-inspector Jaswinder Singh, in charge of station’s security. Police searched every bag.
There was, however, no dip in the volume of passengers commuting between Lahore and Delhi via this train that runs twice a week.
On Monday, 130 people left Attari for Pakistan. The railway authorities said this was average number. Most of the 180 passengers arriving from Pakistan said they were unaware of the terror attack. “We are coming from Karachi,” said Pakistan national Salman. “We were aboard the train, so we must have missed the news.”