Playing safe after the high-intensity blast at the Wagah border, that left many people killed just meters across the zero line, the Border Security Force (BSF) has decided to defer the proposed 'Day Tourism' plan on security grounds.
The plan, which was supposed to be launched on November 10, aimed at opening the border for tourists from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. During this time, BSF was planning to take the tourists to the zero line, gates on the Indo-Pak joint check-post and also to the border pillar close to the gates.
But, after the blast on the Pakistani side, the BSF seems to be taking no chances as far as security and safety of the tourists is concerned.
DIG, BSF, MF Farooqui said, "After the blast, we have examined the whole situation and reached a conclusion to defer the 'Day Tourism' plan for a few days. We cannot open new ventures, especially when the security is priority at the border. This has been done for the safety of the country as well as the people."
We are not cancelling this plan. But it will be launched when the situation is normal, he said.
NO EXTRA PEOPLE IN THE GALLERY
The DIG also confirmed that the BSF would accommodate no extra people once the visitors' gallery for watching the 'Beating the Retreat Ceremony' is full. "Once we get an indication from the troops on duty that the gallery is packed, we stop the tourists the outside Customs Gate. We are getting very strict on this now. The capacity of the gallery is 5,000. So, we will not allow visitors more than that," said Farooqui.
The DIG said, "The entry will be on the first-come, first-served basis. We are also trying to introduce an online mechanism for the registration of visitors. Once the capacity is full, our website can flash a message that it is 'packed for the day'."
"We do understand that people come from far-flung areas to watch the ceremony at the border, but no chances can be taken on safety, especially after such a big blast on the Pakistani side," he said.
Notably, the ceremony that has got enormous response over the years has seen more than 10,000 people reaching the border every evening. But with security concerns high, many will be left disappointed when they will not be allowed entry to watch the ceremony.
Reacting on this, RTI activist PC Sharma said, "Already many people have died across the border. The ceremony seems under high risk and I feel it must be closed to the public rather than restricting the number of people."